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' Opposite startins-points in philosophy 1 

Starting-point of Physiology 2 

Its present imperfection 3 

Its field 3 

Relation to Medicine 3 

Its object 5 

Idea of Life 5 

De Blainville's definition 7 

Definition of Biology 9 

Means of investigation 11 

Observation 12 

Artificial apparatus 12 

Chemical exploration 13 

Experiment 13 

By affecting the organism 14 

By affecting the Medium 14 

Comparative experiment 15 

Pathological investigation . . - . . . .16 

Comparison 18 

Five kinds of comparison 21 

Comparison of parts of the same organism .... 22 

Of phases of the same organism 23 

Of different organisms 23 

Relation of Biology to other sciences 26 

To Chemistry 26 

To Physics 28 

To Astronomy 29 

To Mathematics 33 

Use of scientific fictions 37 





Condition and prospects of the science 38 

Requisite Education ........ 39 

Art of Classification 40 

Influence of Biology upon the Positive Spirit .... 41 

Distribution of the science ....... 44 

Where to begin 46 



Development of Statical biology 
Process of discovery of the tissues 
Combination with Comparative anatomy 
Elements and Products . 
Vitality of the organic fluids 
Classification of the tissues 
Organic: Cellular tissue 
Dermous tissue 
Sclerous tissue . 
Kystous tissue . 
Animal : Muscular and nervous tissues 
Limitation of the inquiry 




Comparative anatomy of vegetables and animals ... 60 

Animal anatomy our subject 61 

Division of the r^atural Method 61 

Natural groups 61 

Co-ordination of them 62 

Three laws of co-ordination . 63 

Question of permanence of organic species .... 64 

Two logical conditions of the study 68 

Subordmation of characteristics 68 

Procedure, in use of the Natural Method .... 69 

Division of animal and vegetable kingdom .... 70 

Hierarchy of the animal kmgdom 71 

Attribute of symmetry 72 

Division of Duplicate animals 73 

Division of Articulated animals 73 

Consideration of the envelope 73 

Natural Method applied to the Vegetable Kingdom . . 74 

Difficulty of co-oroinatiou 74 




Condition of Dynamical Biolc^ 78 

Vital phenomena : their division 79 

Theory^ of Organic Media 79 

Exterior conditions of Life 80 

Mechanical conditions : Weight 80 

Pressure 81 

Motion and rest 82 

Thermological action 82 

Light, Electricity, etc 83 

Molecular conditions 84 

Air and water 84 

Study of Specifics 85 

History of Fhysiology 86 

Philosophical character of Physiology 88 

Division of the study 89 

Two functions of the organic life 89 

Results of organic action 91 

State of composition and decomposition 92 

Vital heat 92 

Electrical state 93 

Production and development of living bodies .... 93 

Decline of the organism 94 



Transition from the inorganic to the organic .... 98 

Primitive nervous jproperties 98 

Relation of the animal to the organic life .... 98 

To inor^nic philosophy 99 

Properties of tissue 100 

Sensibility 101 

IrritabiUty 101 

Present state of analysis of animality 103 

Movement 103 

Exterior Sensation 105 

Interior Sensation 107 

Mode of action of animality 107 

Intermittence 108 

Sleep 108 

Habit 109 

Need of activity Ill 

Association of the animal functionn Ill 





Short-coming of Descartes 

History till 6all*s time 

Positive theory of Cerebral functions 

Its proper place 

Vices of Psychological systems 

Method : Interior Observation 

Doctrine : Relation between the Affective and Intellectual 


Brutes and Man 

Theory of the / 

Reason and Instinct 

Basis of Gall's doctrine 

Divisions of the brain 


Objections . . ^ 

Necessity of human actions 


Hypothetical distribution of faculties 

Needed improvements 

Anatomical basis . . .^ 

Physiological analysis of faculties 

Examination of historical cases 

Pathological and Comparative analysis 

Laws of action . . ^ 

Intermittence and continuity 


Unity of the brain and nervous system 

Imperfect state of Phrenology 

Present state of Biology 

Retrospect of Natural Philosophy 



Proposal of the subject . 
Conditions of Order and Progress 
The theological polity 
(criterion of social doctrine 
Failure of the Theological polity 



The Metaphysical polity 148 

Becomes obstructive 150 

Dogma of Liberty of Conscience 151 

Dogma of Equality 155 

Dogma of the Sovereignty of the People 156 

Dogma of National Independence 156 

Inconsistency of the Metaphysical doctrine .... 157 

Notion of a state of Nature 157 

Adhesion to the worn-out 159 

Recurrence to war 160 

Principle of Political Centralization 160 

The Stationary doctrine 164 

Dangers of the critical period 167 

Intellectual anarchy 167 

Destructi<m of public morality 169 

Private morality 171 

Political corruption . . 173 

Low aims of political questions 176 

Fatal to Progress 177 

Fatal to Order 178 

Incompetence of political leaders 179 

Advent of the Positive Philosophy 182 

Logical coherence of the doctrine 183 

Its effect on Order 1 84 

Its effect on Progress 187 

Anarchical tendencies of the scientific class . .191 

Conclusion 192 




History of Social Science 194 

Aristotle's " Politics " 197 

Montesquieu 198 

Condorcet 201 

Political economy 203 

Growth of historical study 208 




Infantile state of social science 211 

The Relative superseding the Absolute 213 

Presumptuous character of the existing political spirit . . 214 

Prevision of social phenomena 217 



Spirit of Social Science 218 

Statical study 219 

Social Organization 220 

Political and social concurrence 221 

Interconnection of the social organism 223 

Order of statical study 226 

Dynamical study . . . 227 

Social continuity 228 

Produced by natural laws 228 

Notion of Human perfectibility 232 

Limits of political action 234 

Social phenomena modifiable . . . . 235 

Order of modifying influences 237 

Means of Investigation in Social Science .... 241 

Direct Means 241 

Observation 241 

Experiment 245 

Comparison 247 

Comparison with inferior animals 248 

Comparison of co-existing states of society .... 249 

Comparison of consecutive states 251 

Promise of a fourth method of investigation .... 256 






Relation to Biology . 
^^Jtelation to Inorganic philosophy 
Man's action on the external world 
Necessary Education 
Mathematical preparation 
Pretended theory of chances 
Reaction of Sociology 
As to doctrine . 
As to Method . 
Speculative rank of Sociology 





Three aspects 275 

1. The Individual 275 

2. The Family 281 

The Sexual relation 283 

The Parental relation ... , . . . 286 


« . PAGE 

3. Society 289 

Distribnnon of employments • 291 

InconTeniences 293 

Basis of the true theorjr of govermnent 294 

Elementary subordination 295 

Tendency of society to government 297 




Scientific view of Hnman Progression 

Coarse of Man's social development 

Rate of progress 


Duration of human life 

Increase of Population 

The order of evolution 
"^Law of the Three Periods 

The Theological period . 

Intellectual influence of the Theological philosophy 
I Social influences of the Theological philosophy 

Institution of a speculative class 

The Positive stage 

Attenopted union of the two philosophies 

The Metaphysical Period 

Co-existence of the three Periods in the same mind 

Corresponding material development 

Primitive military life . 

Primitive Slaverer .... 

The Military rigime mx)visional 

Affinity between the Theological and Military r^qime 

Affinity between the Positive and Industrial spirit 

Intermediate regime 


307 ^ 





















THE study of the external world and of Opposite 
Man is the eternal business of philo- startin^- 
sophy ; and there are two methods of pro- points in 
ceeding ; by passing from the study of Man pnilosopby. 
to that of external nature, or from the study of external 
nature to that of Man. Whenever philosophy shall be 
perfect, the two methods wiU be reconciled: meantime, 
the contrast of the two distinguishes the opposite philo- 
sophies, — the theological and the positive. We shall see 
hereafter that all theological and metaphysical philosophy 
proceeds to explain the phenomena of the external world 
from the starting-point of our consciousness of human 
phenomena ; whereas, the positive philosophy subordinates 
the conception of Man to that of the eternal world. All 
the multitude of incompatibilities between the two philo- 
sophies proceed from this radical opposition. If the con- 
sideration of Man is to prevail over that of the universe, 
all phenomena are inevitably attributed to will, — first 
natural, and then outside of nature ; and this constitutes 
the theological system. On the contrary, the direct study 
of the universe suggests and developes the great idea of 


the laws of nature, which is the basis of all positive philo- 
sophy, and capable of extension to the whole of phenomena, 
including at last those of Man and Society. The one point 
of agreement among all schools of theology and meta- 
physics, which otherwise differ without limit, is that they 
regard the study of Man as primary, and that of the 
universe as secondary, — usually neglecting the latter en- 
tirely. Whereas, the most marked characteristic of the 
positive school is that it founds the study of Man on the 
prior knowledge of the external world. 

This consideration affects physiology fur- 

ofPhysfXgy. *^®^ *^^^ ^^ ^^^ bearing on its encyclo- 
pedical rank. In this one case the character 
of the science is affected by it. The basis of its positivity 
is its subordination to the knowledge of the external world. 
Any multitude of facts, however well analysed, is useless 
as long as the old method of philosophizing is persisted in, 
and physiology is conceived of as a direct study, isolated 
from that of inert nature. The study has assumed a scien- 
tific character only since the recent period when vital 
phenomena began to be regarded as subject to general 
laws, of which they exhibit only simple modifications. 
This revolution is now irreversible, however incomplete 
and however imperfect have been the attempts to establish 
the positive character of our knowledge of the most com- 
])lex and individual of physiological phenomena ; especially 
that of the nerves and brain. Yet, unquestionable as is the 
basis of the science, its culture is at present too like that to 
which men have been always accustomed, pursued inde- 
pendently of mathematical and inorganic philosophy, which 
are the only solid foundations of the positivity of vital 

There is no science with regard to which it is so neces- 
sary to ascertain its true nature and scope ; because we 
have not only to assign its place in the scale, but to assert 
its originality. On the one hand, metaphysics strives to 
retain it ; and on the other, the inorganic philosophy lays 
hold of it, to make it a mere outlying portion of its scien- 
tific domain. For more than a century, during which 
biology has endeavoured to take its place in the hierarchy 
of fundameutal sciences, it has been bandied between meta- 


physics and physics ; and the strife can be ended only by 
the decision of positive philosophy, as to what position 
shall be occupied by the study of living bodies. 

The present backwardness of the science is 
explained by the extreme complexity of its impSrfection. 
phenomena, and its recent date. That com- 
plexity forbids the hope that biological science can ever 
attain a perfection comparable to that of the more simple 
and general parts of natural philosophy: and, from its 
recent date, minds which see in every other province the 
folly of looking for first causes and modes of production 
of phenomena, still carry these notions into the study of 
living bodies. For more than a century intelligent students 
have in physics put aside the search after the mystery of 
weight, and have looked only for its laws ; yet they reproach 
physiology with teaching us nothing of the nature of life, 
consciousness, and thought. It is easy to see how phy- 
siology may thus be supposed to be far more imperfect 
than it is ; and if it be, from unavoidable circumstances, 
more backward than the other fundamental sciences, it yet 
includes some infinitely valuable conceptions, and its scien- 
tific character is far less inferior than is commonly supposed. 

"We must first describe its domain. 

There is no doubt that the gradual develop- j. ^ , , 

ment of human intelligence would, in course 
of time, lead us over from the theological and metaphysical 
state to the positive by a series of logical conceptions. But 
such an advance would be extremely slow ; and we see, in 
fact, that the process is much quickened by a special 
stimulus of one sort or another. Our historical experience, 
which testifies to every great advance having been made in 
this way, shows that the most common auxiliary influence 
is the need of application of the science in question. Most 
philosophers have said that every science springs from a 
corresponding art; — a maxim which, amidst much exaggera- 
tion, contains solid truth, if we restrict it, as we ought, 
to the separation of each science from the theological and 
metaphysical philosophy which was the natural product of 
early human intelligence. In this view it is p i • 
true that a double action has led to the in- Medidne * 
stitution of science, the arts furnishing posi- 


tive data, and then leading speculative researches in the 
direction of real and accessible questions. But there is 
another side to this view. When the science has once 
reached a certain degree of extension, the progress of 
speculative knowledge is checked by a too close connec- 
tion of theory with practice. Our power of speculation, 
limited as it is, still far surpasses our capacity for action : 
so that it would be radically absurd to restrict the progress 
of the one to that of the other. The rational domains of 
science and art are, in general, perfectly distinct, though 
philosophically connected : in the one we learn to know, 
and therefore to foreknow ; in the other to become capable, 
and therefore to act. If science springs from art, it can 
be matured only when it has left art behind. This is 
palpably true with regard to the sciences whose character 
is clearly recognized. Archimedes was, no doubt, deeply 
aware of it when he apologized to posterity for having for 
the moment applied his genius to practical inventions. In 
the case of mathematics and astronomy we have almost lost 
sight of this truth, from the remoteness of their formation ; 
but, in the case of physics and of chemistry, at whose 
scientific birth we may almost be said to have been present, 
we can ourselves test&y to their dependence on the arts at 
the outset, and to the rapidity of their progress after their 
separation from them. The first series of chemical facts 
were furnished by the labours of art ; but the prodigious 
recent development of the science is certainly due, for the 
most part, to the speculative character that it has assumed. 
These considerations are eminently applicable to physio- 
logy. No other science has been closely connected with a 
corresponding art, as biology has with medical art, — a fact 
accounted for by the high importance of the art and the 
complexity of the science. But for the growing needs of 
practical medicine, and the indications it affords about the 
chief vital phenomena, physiology would have probably 
stopped short at those academical dissertations, half 
literary, half metaphysical, studded with episodical adorn- 
ments, which constituted what was called the science little 
more than a century ago. The time however has arrived 
when biology must, like the other sciences, make a fresh 
start in a purely speculative direction, free from all 


entanglement with medical or any other art. And when 
this science and the others shall have attained an abstract 
completeness, then will arise the further duty, as I have 
indicated before, of connecting the system of the arts with 
that of the sciences by an intermediate order of rational 
conceptions. Meanwhile such an operation would be pre- 
mature, because the system of the sciences is not completely 
formed ; and, with regard to physiology especially, the first 
necessity is to separate it from medicine, in order to secure 
the originality of its scientific character, by constituting 
organic science as a consequence of inorganic. Since the 
time of Haller this process has gone on ; but with extreme 
imcertainty and imperfection ; so that even now the science 
is, with a few valuable exceptions, committed to physicians, 
who are rendered unfit for such a charge both by the 
eminent importance of their proper business, and by the 
profoimd imperfection of their existing education. Phy- 
siology is the only science which is not taken possession of 
by minds exclusively devoted to it. It has not even a regu- 
larly assigned place in the best-instituted scientific corpo- 
rations. This state of things cannot last, the importance 
and difficulty of the science being considered. If we would 
not confide the study of astronomy to navigators, we shall 
not leave physiology to the leisure of physicians. Such an 
organization as this is a sufficient evidence of the prevalent 
confusion of ideas about physiological science ; and when 
its pursuit has been duly provided for, that reaction for 
the benefit of art will ensue which should put to flight all 
the fears of the timid about the separation of theory from 
practice. We have seen before how the loftiest truths of 
science concur to put us in possession of an art ; and the 
verification of this truth, which physics and chemistry 
have afforded before our eyes, will be repeated in the case 
of physiology when the science has advanced as far. 

Having: provided for a speculative view of t* v i. 
, . T ° ^ - . • • X -x !_ • X Its oDiect. 

physiology, we must inquire mto its object ; *' 

and, as the vital laws constitute the essential subject of 

biology, we must begin by analysing the fundamental idea 

of life. 

Before the time of Bichat, this idea was x^ * t *t^ 

wrapped m a mist of metaphysical abstrac- 


tions ; and Bichat himself, after having perceived that a 
definition of life could be founded on nothing else than a 
general view of phenomena proper to living bodies, so far 
fell under the influence of the old philosophy as to call life 
a struggle between dead nature and living nature. The 
irrationality of this conception consists especially in its 
suppressing one of the two elements whose concurrence is 
neieessary to the general idea of life. This idea supposes, 
not only a being so organized as to admit of the vital state, 
but such an arrangement of external influences as will also 
admit of it. The harmony between the living being and 
the corresponding medium (as I shall call its environment) 
evidently characterizes the fundamental condition of life ; 
whereas, on Bichat's supposition, the whole environment ^ 
of living beings tends to destroy them. If certain pertur- 
bations of the medium occasionally destroy life, its in- 
fluence is, on the whole, preservative ; and the causes of 
injury and death proceed at least as often from necessary 
and spontaneous modifications of the organism as from ex- 
ternal influences. Moreover, one of the main distinctions 
between the organic and the inorganic regions is that inor- 
ganic phenomena, from their greater simplicity and gene- 
rality, are produced under almost any external influences 
which admit of their existence at all ; while organic bodies 
are, from their complexity, and the variety of actions always 
preceding, very closely dependent on the influences around 
them. And the higher we ascend in the ranks of organic 
bodies, the closer is this dependence, in proportion to the 
diversity of functions ; though, as we must bear in mind, 
the power of the organism in modifying the influences of 
the medium rises in proportion. The existence of the being 
then requires a more complex aggregate of exterior circum- 
stances ; but it is compatible with wider limits of variation 
in each influence taken by itself. In the lowest rank of 
the organic hierarchy, for instance, we find vegetables and 
fixed animals which have no effect on the medium in which 
they exist, and which would therefore perish by the slightest 
changes in it, but for the very small number of distinct 
exterior actions required by their life. At the other ex- 
tremity we find Man, who can live only by the concurrence 
of the moat com^leyi exterior conditions, atmospherical and 


terrestrial, under various physical and chemical aspects ; 
but, by an indispensable compensation, he can endure, in 
all these conditions, much wider differences than inferior 
organisms could support, because he has a superior power 
of reacting on the surrounding system. However great 
this power, it is as contradictory to Bichat*s view as his de- 
pendence on the exterior world. But this notion of Man's 
independence of exterior nature, and antagonism to it, was 
natural in Bichat's case, when physiological considerations 
bore no relation to any hierarchy of organisms, and when 
Man was studied as an isolated existence. However, the 
radical vice of such a starting-point for such a study could 
not but impair the whole system of Bichat*s physiological 
conceptions ; and we shall see how seriously the effects 
have made themselves felt. 

Next ensued the abuse, by philosophers, and especially 
in Q-ermany, of the benefits disclosed by comparative 
anatomy. They generalized extravagantly the abstract 
notion of life yielded by the study of the aggregate of 
organized beings, making the idea of life exactly equiva- 
lent to that of spontaneous activity. As all natural bodies 
are active, in some manner and degree, no distinct notion 
could be attached to the term; and this abuse must 
evidently lead us back to the ancient confusion, which 
arose from attributing life to all bodies. The inconve- 
nience of having two terms to indicate a single general 
idea should teach us that, to prevent scientific questions 
from degenerating into a contest of words, we must care- 
fully restrict the term life to the only really living beings, 
— that is, those which are organized, — and not give it a 
meaning which would include all possible organisms, and 
all their modes of vitality. In this case, as in all primitive 
questions, the philosophers would have done wisely to 
respect the rough but judicious indications of popular 
good sense, which will ever be the true starting-point of 
all wise scientific speculation. 

I know of no other successful attempt *o T^ t>i • -n ' 
define life than that of M. de Blainville, definition, 
proposed in the introduction to his treatise 
on Comparative Anatomy. He characterizes life as the 
double interior motion, general and continuous, of com- 


position and decomposition, which in fact constitutes its 
true universal nature. I do not see that this leaves any- 
thing to be desired, unless it be a more direct and explicit 
indication of the two correlative conditions of a deter- 
minate organism and a suitable medium. This criticism 
however applies rather to the formula than to the con- 
ception ; and the conditions are implied in the conception, 
— ^the conditions of an organism to sustain the renovation, 
and a medium to minister to the absorption and exhala- 
tion ; yet it might have been better to express them. 
With this modification, the definition is unexceptionable, 
— enunciating the one phenomenon which is common to 
all living beings, and excluding all inert bodies. Here we 
have, in my view, the first elementary basis of true bio- 
logical philosophy. 

It is true, this definition neglects the eminent dis- 
tinction between the organic and the animal life, and 
relates solely to the vegetative life ; and it appears to 
violate the general principle of definitions, — that they 
should exhibit a phenomenon in the case in which it is 
most, and not in that in which it is least developed. But 
the proposed definition is shown, by these very objections, 
to rest upon a due estimate of the whole biological hier- 
archy; for the animal life is simply a complementary 
advancement upon the organic or fundamental life, adapted 
to procure materials for it by reaction upon the external 
world, and to prepare or facilitate its acts by sensations, 
locomotion, etc., and to preserve it from unfavourable 
influences. The higher animals, and Man especially, are 
the only ones in which this relation is totally subverted, — 
the vegetative life being destined to support the animal, 
which is erected into the chief end and preponderant cha- 
racter of organic existence. But in Man himself, this admir- 
able inversion of the usual order becomes comprehensible 
only by the aid of a remarkable development of intelligence 
and sociality, which tends more and more to transform the 
species artificially into a single individual, immense and 
eternal, endowed with a constantly progressive action upon 
external nature. This is the only just view to take of this 
subordination of the vegetative to the animal life, as the 
ideal type towards which civilized humanity incessantly 


tends, though it can never be fully realized. We shall 
hereafter show how this conception is related to the new 
fundamental science which I propose to constitute : but in 
pure biology, the view is unscientific, and can only lead us 
astray. It is not with the essential properties of humanity 
that biology is concerned ; but with the individual in his 
relation to other organic beings; and it must therefore 
rigorously maintain the conception of animal life being 
subordinated to the vegetative, as a general law of the 
organic realm, and the only apparent exception to which 
forms the special object of a wholly different fundamental 
science. It should be added that, even where the animal 
life is the most developed, the organic life, besides being the 
basis and the end, remains common to all the tissues, while, 
at the same time, it alone proceeds in a necessarily con- 
tinuous manner, — the animal life, on the contrary, being 
intermittent. These are the grounds on which M. de Blain- 
ville's definition of life must be confirmed, while, never- 
theless, we may regard the consideration of animality, and 
even of humanity, as the most important object of biology. 
This analysis of the phenomenon of life 7) « •*• f 
will help us to a clear definition of the Biology.^^ ^ 
science which relates to it. We have seen 
that the idea of life supposes the mutual relation of two 
indispensable elements, — an organism, and a suitable 
medium or environment. It is from the reciprocal action 
of these two elements that all the vital phenomena pro- 
ceed; — not only the animal, but also the organic. It 
immediately follows that the great problem of positive 
biology consists in establishing, in the most general and 
simple manner, a scientific harmony between these two 
inseparable powers of the vital conflict, and the act which 
constitutes that conflict : in a word, in connecting, in both 
a general and special manner, the double idea of organ and 
medium with that of function. The idea of function is, in 
fact, as double as the other ; and, if we were treating of 
the natural history of vital beings, we must expressly con- 
sider it so: for, by the law of the equivalence of action 
and reaction, the organism must act on the medium as 
much as the medium on the organism. In treating of the 
human being, and especially in the social state, it would 


be necessary to use the term function in this larger sense : 
but at present there will be little inconvenience in adopting 
it in its ordinary sense, signifying organic acts, indepen- 
dently of their exterior consequences. 

Biology, then, may be regarded as having for its object 
the connecting, in each determinate case, the anatomical 
and the physiological point of view ; or, in other words, 
the statical and dynamical. This perpetual relation con- 
stitutes its true philosophical character. Placed in a given 
system of exterior circumstances, a definite organism must 
always act in a necessarily determinate manner ; and, in- 
versely, the same action could not be precisely produced by 
really distinct organisms. We may then conclude inter- 
changeably, the act from the subject, or the agent from 
the act. The surrounding system being always supposed 
to be known, according to the other fundamental sciences, 
the double biological problem may be laid down thus, in 
the most mathematical form, and in general terms : Given, 
the organ or organic modification^ to find the function or the 
act ; and reciprocally. This definition seems to me to 
fulfil the chief philosophical conditions of the science ; and 
especially it provides for that rational prevision, which, as 
has Ibeen so often said, is the end of all true science ; an 
end which abides through all the degrees of imperfection 
which, in any science, at present prevents its attainment. 
It is eminently important to keep this end in view in a 
science so intricate as this, in which the multitude of 
details tempts to a fatal dispersion of efforts upon desul- 
tory researches. No one disputes that the most perfect 
portions of the science are those in which prevision has 
been best realized; and this is a sufficient justification of 
the proposal of this aim, whether or not it shall ever be 
fully attained. My definition excludes the old division 
between anatomy and physiology, because I believe that 
division to have marked a very early stage of the science, 
and to be no longer sustainable. It was by the simple and 
easy considerations of anatomy that the old metaphysical 
view was discredited, and positivity first introduced into 
biology: but that service once accomplished, no reason 
remains for the separation; and the division, in fact, is 
growing fainter every day. 


Not only does my definition abstain from separating 
anatomy from physiology ; it joins to it another essential 
part, the nature of which is little known. If the idea of 
life is really inseparable from that of organization, neither 
can be severed, as we have seen, from that of a medium or 
environment, in a determinate relation with them. Hence 
arises a third elementary aspect; viz., the general theory 
of organic media, and of their action upon the organism, 
abstractedly regarded. This is what the G-erman philo- 
sophers of our day confusedly asserted in their notion of 
an intermediate realm, — of air and water, — uniting the 
inorganic and organic worlds: and this is what M. de 
Blainville had in view in what he called the study of ex- 
terior modifiers, general and special. Unhappily, this 
portion which, after anatomy proper, is the most indis- 
pensable preliminary of biology, is still so obscure and 
imperfect that few physiologists even suspect its exis- 

The definition that I have proposed aids us in de- 
scribing not only the object or nature of the science, but its 
subject, or domain: for, according to this formula, it is 
not in a single organism, but in all known, and even pos- 
sible organisms, that biology must endeavour to establish 
a constant and necessary harmony between the anatomical 
point of view and the physiological. This unity of subject 
is one of the chief philosophical beauties of biology ; and, 
in order to maintain it, we must here avow that in the 
midst of an almost infinite diversity, the study of Man 
must always prevail, and rule all the rest, whether as 
starting-point or aim. Our hope, in studying other orga- 
nisms, is to arrive at a more exact knowledge of Man : and 
again, the idea of Man is the only possible standard ti> 
which we can refer other organic systems. In this sense, 
and in this only, can the point of view of the antiquated 
philosophy be sustained by the deeper philosophy which is 
taking its place. Such is, then, the necessary consolidation 
of all the parts of biological science, notwithstanding the 
imposing vastness of its rational domain. 

As for the means of investigation in this ^ . . 

science, — ^the first observation that occurs is testitration. 
that it aiEords a striking confirmation of the 


philosopliical law before laid down, of the inevitable in- 
crease of our scientific resources in proportion to the com- 
plication of the phenomena in question. If biological 
phenomena are incomparably more complex than those of 
any preceding science, the study of them admits of the 
most extensive assemblage of intellectual means (many of 
them new) and developes human faculties hitherto inactive, 
or known only in a rudimentary state. The logical re- 
sources which are thus obtained will be exhibited here- 
after. At present, we must notice the means of direct 
exploration and analysis of phenomena in this science. 
Observation First, Observation acquires a new exten- 
sion. Chemistry admitted the use of all the 
five senses ; but biology is, in this respect, an advance upon 
chemistry. We can here employ an artificial apparatus to 
perfect the natural sensations, and especially in the case of 
sight. Much needing precaution in the use, and very 
subject to abuse, as is this resource, it will always be 
. .„ . ^ eagerly employed. In a statical view, such an 

paratus *^ apparatus helps us to a much better estimate 

of a structure whose least perceptible details 
may acquire a primary importance, in various relations: 
and, even in the dynamical view, though much less favour- 
able, we ai'e sometimes enabled by these artificial means 
to observe directly the elementary play of the smallest 
organic parts, which are the ordinary basis of the principal 
vital phenomena. Till recently, these aids were limited to 
the sense of sight, which here, as everywhere else, is the chief 
agent of scientific observation. But some instruments have 
been devised in our day to assist the hearing ; and, though 
invented for pathological investigations, they are equally 
fit for the study of the healthy organism. Though rough 
at present, and not to be compared to microscopic appa- 
ratus, these instruments indicate the improvements that 
may be made hereafter in artificial hearing. Moreover, they 
suggest, by analogy, that the other senses, not excepting 
even touch, may admit of such assistance, hinted to the 
restless sagacity of explorers by a better theory of the 
corresponding sensations. 

Next, the biologist has an advantage over the chemist in 
bein^ able to employ the whole of chemical procedures, as 



a sort of new power, to perfect the prelimiDary p, . , 
exploration of the subject of his researches, pioration. 
according to the evident rule of philosophy 
that each doctrine may be converted into a method with 
regard to those that follow it in the scientific hierarchy ; but 
never with regard to those which precede it. In anatomical 
observations, especially, as might be foreseen, a happy use 
is made of chemical procedure, to characterize with pre- 
cision the different elementary tissues, and the chief pro- 
ducts of the organism. Id physiological observations also, 
though they are less favourable to the use of such means, 
they are of real and notable efficacy, — always supposing, in 
both cases, that they are used under the guidance of sound 
philosophy, and not overcharged with the minute numeri- 
ciJ details which too often burden the chemical analyses of 
the organic tissues. One more resource may be mentioned, 
which was often employed by Bichat to make up for the 
absence or imperfection of chemical tests ; the examination 
of alimentary effects, — the substances which immediately 
compose organized bodies being, usually, by their nature, 
more or less fit for nutrition. In an anatomical view this 
study may become a useful complement of the other means 
of investigation. 

Proceeding to the second class of means, — Experiment 
Experiment cannot but be less and less de- 
cisive, in proportion to the complexity of the phenomena 
to be explored : and therefore we saw this resource to be 
less effectual in chemistry than in physics; and we now 
find that it is eminently useful in chemistry in comparison 
with physiology. In fact, the nature of the phenomena 
seems to offer almost insurmountable impediments to any 
extensive and prolific application of such a procedure in 
biology. These phenomena require the concurrence of 
so large a number of distinct influences, external and 
internal, which, however diverse, are closely connected with 
each other, and yet within narrow Hmits, that, however 
easy it may be to disturb or suspend the process under 
notice, it is beyond measure difficult to effect a determinate 
perturbation. If too powerful, it would obviate the phe- 
nomenon : if too feeble, it would not sufficiently mark the 
artificial case. And, on the other hand, though intended 


and directed to modify one only of the phenomena, it must 
presently affect several others, in virtue of their mutual 
sympathy. Thus, it requires a highly philosophical spirit, 
acting with extreme circumspection, to conduct physio- 
logical experiments at all ; and it is no wonder if such 
experiments have, with a few happy exceptions, raised 
scientific difficulties greater than those proposed to be 
solved, — to say nothing of those innumerable experiments 
which, having no definite aim. have merely encumbered the 
science with idle and imconnected details. 

In accordance with what has been said of the mutual 
relations of the organism and its environment, we must 
bear in mind that experiments in physiology must be of 
two kinds. We must introduce determinate perturbations 
into the medium as well as the organism; whereas the 

latter process has alone been commonly at- 
the or^ankm. tempted. If it is objected that the organism 

must it sell be disturbed by such affection or 
the medium, the answer is that the study of this reaction 
is itself a part of the experiment. It should be remarked 
that experimentation on the organism is much the less 
rational of the two methods, because the conditions of ex- 
periment are much less easily fulfilled. The first rule, that 
the change introduced shall be fully compatible with the 
existence of the phenomenon to be observed, is rendered 
often impracticable by the incompatibility of life with 
much alteration of the organs : and the second rule, — that 
the two compared cases shall differ under only one point 
of view, — is baffled by the mutual sympathy of the organs, 
which is very different from their harmony with their 
environment. In both lights, nothing can be imagined 
more futile in the way of experiment than the practice ot* 
vivisection, which is the commonest of all. Setting aside 
the consideration of the cruelty, the levity, and the bad 
moral stimulus involved in the case, it must be pronounced 
absurd ; for any positive solution is rendered impossible 
by the induced death of a system eminently indivisible, 
and the universal disturbance of the organism imder its 

By affecting The second class of physiological experi- 

the Medium, ments appears to me much more promising ; 


— ^that in which the system of exterior circumstances is 
modified for a determinate purpose. Scarcely anything 
has been done in ihis direction beyond some incomplete 
researches into the action of artificial atmospheres, and 
the comparative influence of different kinds of alimen- 
tation. We are here better able to circumscribe, with 
scientific precision, the artificial perturbation we produce ; 
we can control the action upon the organism, so that the 
general disturbance of the system may affect the observa- 
tion very slightly ; and we can suspend the process at 
pleasure, so as to allow the restoration of the normal state 
before the organism has undergone any irreparable change. 
It is easy to see how favourable, in comparison, these con- 
ditions are to rational induction. And to these considera- 
tions may be added the one more, that under this method 
we can observe varying states in one individual ; whereas, 
under the practice of vivisection, we have to observe the 
normal state in one individual, and the artificial in another. 
Thus we are justified in our satisfaction that the least 
violent method of experimentation is the most instructive. 

As to the application of experiment in the ^ 
various degrees of the biological scale ; — it is «^?"i?^tnV^ 
easiest m the lower order of organisms, 
because their organs are simpler and fewer, their mutual 
sympathy is less, and their environment is more definite 
and less complex; and these advantages, in my opinion, 
more than compensate for the restriction of the field of 
experiment. It is true, we are remote from the human 
type, which is the fundamental unity of biology ; and our 
judgment is thus impaired, especially with regard to the 
phenomena of animal life : but, on the other hand, we are 
all the nearer to the scientific constitution proper to in- 
organic physics, which I consider to be the ultimate 
destination of the art of experiment. The advantages at 
the other end of the scale are that the higher the organism, 
tlie more is it susceptible of modification, both from its 
own complexity and from the greater variety of external 
influences involved ; — every advantage bringing with it, as 
we have seen, an increase of difficulty. 

No one will suppose, I trust, that from anything I have 
said I have the sUghtest desire to undervalue the use of 


experiment in biology, or to slight sucli achievements as 
Harvey's experiments on circulation ; Haller's on irrita- 
bility ; part of Spallanzani's on digestion and generation ; 
Bichat's on the triple harmony between the heart, the 
brain, and the lungs in the superior animals ; those of 
Legallois on animal heat; and many analogous efforts 
which, seeing the vast difficulty of the subject, may rival 
the most perfect investigations in physics. My object is 
simply to rectify the false or exaggerated notions of the 
capacity of the experimental method, misled by its appa- 
rent facility to suppose it the best method of physiological 
research ; which it is not. One consideration remains in 
this connection; the consideration of the high scientific 
destination of pathological investigation, regarded as offer- 
ing, in biology, the real equivalent of experimentation, 
properly so called. 

p , , . , Precisely in the case in which artificial ex- 

TinrestiK?tion. perimentation is the most difficult, nature 

fulfils the conditions for us; and it would 
surely be mistaking the means for the end to insist on 
introducing into the organism perturbations of our own 
devising, when we may find them taking place without that 
additional confusion which is caused by the use of artificial 
methods. Physiological phenomena lend themselves re- 
markably to that spontaneous experimentation which 
results from a comparison of the normal and abnormal 
states of the organism. The state of disease is not a 
radically different condition from that of health. The 
pathological condition is to the physiological simply a pro- 
longation of the limits of variation, higher or lower, proper 
to each phenomenon of the normal organism ; and it can 
never produce any entirely new phenomenon. Therefore, 
the accurate idea of the physiological state is the indis- 
pensable ground of any sound pathological theory ; and 
therefore, again, must the scientific study of pathological 
phenomenon be the best way to perfect our investigations 
into the normal state. The gradual invasion of a malady, 
and the slow passage from an almost natural condition jbo 
one of fully marked disease, are far from being useless 
preliminaries, got rid of by the abrupt introduction of 
what may be called the violent malady of direct experi- 


ment: they offer, on the contrary, inestimable materials 
to the biologist able to put them to use. And so it is also 
in the happy converse case, of the return, spontaneous or 
contrived, to health, which presents a sort of verification 
of the primitive analysis. Moreover, the direct examina- 
tion of the chief phenomenon is not obscured, but much 
elucidated, by this natural process. And again, it may be 
applied directly to Man himself, without prejudice to the 
pathology of animals, and even of vegetables. We may 
enjoy our power of turning our disasters to the profit of 
our race : and we cannot but deplore the misfortune that 
our great medical establishments are so constituted as that 
little rational instruction is obtained from them, for want 
of complete observations and duly prepared observers. 

Here, as elsewhere, the distinction holds of the pheno- 
mena belonging to the organism or to the medium ; and 
here, as before, we find the maladies produced from without 
the most accessible to inquiry. Pathological inquiry is 
also more suitable than experimental, to the whole bio- 
logical series : and thus it answers well to extend our obser- 
vations through the entire hierarchy, though our object 
may be the study of Man ; for his maladies may receive 
much light from a sound analysis of the derangements of 
other organisms, — even the vegetable, as we shall see when 
we treat of the comparative process. 

Again, pathological analysis is applicable, not only to all 
organisms, but to all phenomena of the same organism ; 
whereas direct experimentation is too disturbing and too 
abrupt to be ever applied with success to certain phenomena 
which require the most delicate harmony of a varied system 
of conditions. For instance, the observation of the numer- 
ous maladies of the nervous system offers us a special and 
inestimable means of improving our knowledge of the laws 
of intellectual and moral phenomena, imperfect as are yet 
our qualifications for using them. There remains one other 
means of knowledge under this head ; the examination of 
exceptional organizations, or cases of monstrosity. As 
anight be anticipated, these organic anomalies were the 
last to pass over from the gaze of a barren curiosity to 
the investigation of science ; but we are now learning to 
refer them to the laws of the regular organism, and to sub- 

JX c 


ject them to pathological procedures, regarding such ex- 
ceptions as true maladies, of a deeper and more obscure 
origin than others, and of a more incurable nature ; — con- 
siderations which, of course, reduce their scientific value. 
This resource shares with pathology the advantage of 
being applicable through the whole range of the biological 

It is still necessary to insist that, in either method of 
experimentation, direct or indirect, artificial or natural, the 
elementary rules should be kept in view ; first, to have a 
determinate aim ; that is, to seek to illustrate an organic 
phenomenon, under a special aspect; and, secondly, to 
understand beforehand the normal state, and its limits of 
variation. In regard to the more advanced sciences, it 
would seem puerile to recommend such maxims as these ; 
but we must still insist on them in biology. It is through 
neglecjt of them that all the observations yet collected on 
the derangements of the intellectual and moral phenomena 
have yielded scarcely any knowledge of tbeir laws. Thus, 
whatever may be the value of the most suitable method of 
experimentation, we must ever remember that here, as 
elsewhere, and more than elsewhere, pure observation must 
always hold the first rank, as casting light, primarily, on 
the whole subject, which it is proposed to examine after- 
wards, as a special study, with a determinate view, by the 
method of experimentation. 

r«^^«AT.TorM^ 111 ^^^ third place, we have to review the 

method ot Comparison, which is so specially 
adapted to the study of living bodies, and by which, above 
all others, that study must be advanced. In Astronomy, 
this method is necessarily inapplicable: and it is not till 
we arrive at Chemistry that this third means of investiga- 
tion can be used ; and then, only in subordination to the 
two others. It is in the study, both statical and dynamical, 
of living bodies, that it first acquires its full development; 
and its use elsewhere can be only through its application 

The fundamental condition of its use is the unity of the 
principal subject, in combination with a great diversity of 
actual modifications. According to the definition of life, 
this combination is eminently realized in the study of 


biological phenomena, however regarded. The whole system 
of biological science is derived, as we haye seen, from one 
great philosophical conception; the necessary correspon- 
dence between the ideas of organization and those of life. 
There cannot be a more perfect fundamental unity of 
subject than this ; and it is unnecessary to insist upon the 
ahnost indefinite variety of its modifications, — statical and 
dynamical. In a purely anat'Omical view, all possible 
organisms, all the parts of each organism, and all the 
different states of each, necessarily present a common basis 
of structure and of composition, whence proceed successively 
the different secondary organizations which constitute 
tissues, organs, and systems of organs, more or less com- 
phcated. In the same way, in a physiological view, all 
living beings, from vegetable to man, considered in all the 
acts and periods of their existence, are endowed with a 
certain common vitality, which is a necessary basis of the 
innumerable phenomena which characterize them in their 
degrees. Both these aspects present as most important, 
and really fundamental, what there is in common among 
all the cases; and their particularities as of less conse- 
quence ; which is in accordance with the great prevalent 
law, that the more general phenomena overrule the less. 
Thus broad and sound is ihe basis of the comparative 
method, in regard to biology. 

At the first glance the immensity of the science is over- 
whelming to ti^e understanding, embracing as it does all 
organic and vital cases, which it appears impossible ever to 
reduce within the compass of our knowledge : and no doubt, 
the discouragement hence arising is one cause of the back- 
wardness of biological philosophy. Yet the truth is that 
this very magnitude affords, not an obstacle, but a facility 
to the perfecting of the science, by means of the luminous 
comparison which results from it, when once the human 
mind becomes familiar enough with the conditions of the 
study to dispose its materials so as to illustrate each other. 
The science could make no real progress while Man was 
studied as an isolated subject. Man must necessarily be 
the type ; because he is the most complete epitome of the 
whole range of cases : Man, in his adult and normal state, 
is the representative of the great scientific unity, whence 


the successive terms of the great biological series recede, 
till they terminate in the simplest organizations, and the 
most imperfect modes of existence. But the science would 
remain in the most defective state in regard to Man him- 
self, if it were not pursued through a perpetual comparison, 
under all possible aspects, of the first term with all inferior 
ones, till the simplest was reached: and then, back again, 
through the successive complications which occur between 
the lowest type and the highest. This is the most general, 
the most certain, the most effectual method of studying 
physiological as well as anatomical phenomena. Not only 
is there thus a greater number of cases known, but each 
case is much better understood by their approximation. 
This would not be the case, and the problem would be 
embarrassed instead of simplified, if there were not a fun- 
damental resemblance among the whole series, accompanied 
by gradual modifications, always regulated in their course : 
and this is the reason why the comparative method is 
appropriate to biology alone, of all the sciences, except, 
as we shall see hereafter, in social physics. 

Complete and spontaneous as this harmony really is, no 
philosopher can contemplate without admiration the emi- 
nent art by which the human mind has been aided to con- 
vert into a potent means what appeared at first to be a 
formidable difficulty. I know no stronger evidence of the 
force of human reason than such a transformation affords. 
And in this case, as in every other in which primordial 
scientific powers are concerned, it is the work of the whole 
race, gradually developed in the course of ages, and not the 
original product of any isolated mind, — however some 
moderns may be asserted to be the creators of comparative 
biology. Between the primitive use that Aristotle made of 
this method in the easiest cases, — as in comparing the 
structure of Man's upper and lower limbs, — to the most 
profound and abstract approximations of existing biology, 
we find a very extensive series of intermediate states, con- 
stantly progressive, among which history can point out 
individually only labours which prove what had been the 
advance in the spirit of the comparative art at the corre- 
sponding period, as manifested by its larger and more 
eiectua}. application. It is evident that the comparative 


method of biologists was no more the invention of an indi- 
vidual than the experimental method of the physicists. 

There are five principal heads under which Five kinds of 
biological comparisons are to be classed. comparison. 

1. Comparison between the different parts of the same 

2. Comparison between the sexes. 

3. Comparison between the various phases presented bj 
the whole of the development. 

4. Comparison between the different races or varieties of 
each species. 

5. Lastly, and pre-eminently, Comparison between all 
the organisms of the biological hierarchy. 

It must be understood that the organism is always to be 
supposed in a normal state. When the laws of that state 
are fully established, we may pass on to pathological com- 
parison, which will extend the scope of those laws: but 
we are not yet advanced enough in our knowledge of 
normal conditions to undertake anything beyond. More- 
over, though comparative pathology would be a necessary 
application of biological science, it cannot form a part of 
that science, but rather belongs to the future medical 
science, of which it must form the basis. — Again, biological 
comparison can take place only between the organisms, and 
not between them and their medium. When such com- 
parison comes to be instituted, it will be, not as biological 
sdeuce, but as a matter of natural history. 

The spirit of biological comparison is the same under all 
forms. It consists in regarding all cases as radically 
analogous in respect to the proposed investigation, and in 
representing their differences as simple modifications of an 
abstract type; so that secondary differences may be con- 
nected with the primary accoidiig to uniform law8 ; these 
laws constituting the biological philosophy by which each 
determinate case is to be explained. If the question is 
anatomical, Man, in his adult and normal state, is taken 
for the fundamental unity, and all other organizations as 
successive simplifications, descending from the primitive 
type, whose essential features will be found in the remotest 
cases, stripped of all complication. If the question is phy- 
siological, we seek the fundamental identity of the chief 


phenomenon Tvliicli characterises the function proposed, 
amidst the graduated modifications of the series of com- 
parative cases, till we find it isolated, or nearly so, in the 
simplest case of all ; and thence we may trace it back again, 
clothed in successive complications of secondary qualities. 
Thus, the theory of analogous existences, which has been 
offered as a recent innovation, is only the necessary principle 
of the comparative method, under a new name. It is 
evident that this method must be of surpassing value when 
philosophically applied : and also that, delicate as it is, and 
requiring extreme discrimination and care in its estimate 
and use, it may be easily converted into a hindrance and 
embarrassment, by giving occasion to vicious speculations 
on analogies which are only apparent. 

Of the five classes specified above, three only are so 
marked as to require a notice here : the comparison between 
the different parts of the same organism ; between the 
different phases of each development; and between the 
distinct terms of the great hierarchy of Uving bodies. 
Comparison of ^® method of comparison began with the 
parts of the first of these. Looking no further than Man, 
same organ- no philosophical mind can help being struck 
^'"' by the remarkable resemblance that his dif- 

ferent chief parts bear to each other in many respects, — ^both 
as to structure and function. First, all the tissues, all the 
apparatus, in as far as they are organized and living, offer 
those fundamental characteristics which are inherent in 
the very ideas of organization and life, aud to which the 
lowest organisms are reduced. But, in a more special 
view, the analogy of the organs becomes more and more 
marked as that of the functions is so ; and the converse ; 
and this often leads to luminous comparisons, anatomical 
and physiological, passing from the one to the other, alter- 
nately. This original and simple method of comparison is 
by no means driven out by newer processes. It was thus, 
for instance, that Bichat, whose subject was Man only, and 
adult Man, discovered the fundamental analogy between 
the mucous and the cutaneous systems, which has yielded 
so much advantage to both biology and pathology. And 
again, with all M. de Blainville's mastery of the principle 
of the comjmrative method, we cannot doubt the sufficiency 


of the analysis of the human organism to establish the 
resemblance he exhibited between the skull and the other 
elements of the vertebral colunm. 

A new order of resources presents itself of phases of 
when we compare the different phases of the the same or- 
same organism. Its chief value is in its ganism. 
offering, on a small scale, and, as it were, under one aspect, 
the whole series of the most marked organisms of the 
biological hierarchy; for it is obvious that the primitive 
state of the highest organism must present the essential 
characters of the complete state of the lowest ; and thus 
successively, — without, however, compelling us to find the 
counterpart of every inferior term in the superior organism. 
Such an analysis of ages unquestionably offers the property 
of realizing in an individual, that successive complication 
of organs and functions which characterizes the biological 
hierarchy, and which, in this homogeneous and compact 
form, constitutes a special and singular order of luminous 
comparisons. Useful through all degrees of the scale, it is 
evidently most so in the case of the highest type, the adult 
Man, as the interval from the origin to the utmost com- 
plexity is in that case the greatest. It is valuable chiefly 
in the visible ascendant period of life ; for we know very 
little of the foetal period ; and the declining stage, which 
is in fact only a gradual death, presents little scientific 
interest: for, if there are many ways of living, there is 
only one natural way of dying. The rational analysis of 
death, however, has its own importance, constituting a sort 
of general corollary, convenient for the verification of the 
whole body of biological laws. 

The popular notion of comparative biology of H'ff 
is that it consists wholly of the last of the oreani^a^? 
methods I have pointed out : and this shows 
how pre-eminent it is over the others ; the popular exaggera- 
tion however being mischievous by concealing the origin of 
the art. The peculiarity of this largest apphcation consists 
in its being founded on a very protracted comparison of a 
very extensive series of analogous cases, in which the 
modification proceeds by almost insensible graduated declen- 
sion. The two more restricted methods could not offer a 
series of cases extensive enough to establish, without con- 


firmation, tlie nature and value of tlie comparative method, 
though, that point once fixed, thej may then come into 
unquestionable use. As for the value of the largest applica- 
tion, it demonstrates itself. There is clearly no structure 
or function whose analysis may not be perfected by 
an examination of what all organisms offer in common 
with regard to that structure and function, and by the 
simplification effected by the stripping away of all accessory 
characteristics, till the quality sought is found alone, from 
whence the process of reconstruction can begin. It may 
even be fairly said that no anatomical arrangement, and 
no physiological phenomenon, can be really understood till 
the abstract notion of its principal element is thus reached, 
by successively attaching to it all secondary ideas, in the 
rational order prescribed by their greater or less persistence 
in the organic series. Such a method seems to me to offer, 
in biology, a philosophical character very like mathematical 
analysis genuinely applied ; when it presents, as we have 
seen, in every indefinite series of analogous cases, the 
essential part which is common to all, and which was 
before hidden under the secondary specialities of each 
separate case. It cannot be doubted that the comparative 
art of biologists will produce an equivalent result, up to a 
certain point ; and especially, by the rational consideration 
of the organic hierarchy. 

This great consideration was at first established only in 
regard to anatomy ; but it is yet more necessary in physio- 
logy, and not less applicable, except from the difficulty of 
that kind of observation. In regard to physiological pro- 
blems particularly, it should be remarked that not only all 
animal organisms, but the vegetable also, should be included 
in the comparison. Many important phenomena, and 
among others those of organic life, properly so called, 
cannot be analysed without an inclusion of the vegetable 
form of them. There we see them in their simplest and 
most marked condition, for it is by the great act of vege- 
table assimilation that brute matter passes really into the 
organized state, all ulterior transformations by means of 
the animal organization being much less marked. And 
thus, the laws of nutrition, which are of the highest im- 
portance, are best disclosed by the vegetable organism. 


The method is unquestionably applicable to all organs and 
all acts, without any exception; but its scientific value 
diminishes as it is applied to the higher apparatus and 
functions of the superior organisms, because these are 
restricted in proportion to their complexity and superiority. 
This is eminently the case with the highest intellectual and 
moral functions which below Man disappear almost entirely ; 
or, at least, almost cease to be recognizable below the first 
classes of the mammifers. We cannot but feel it to be an 
imperfection in the comparative method that it serves us 
least where we are most in need of all our resources ; but 
it would be imphilosophical to deprive ourselves, even in 
this case, of the light which is cast upon the analysis of 
Man as moral, by the study of the intellectual and affective 
qualities of the superior animals, and of all others which 
present such attributes, however imperfect our manage- 
ment of the comparison may yet be. And we may ob- 
serve that the comparative method finds a partial equiva- 
lent in the rational analysis of ages, — thus rendered 
more clear, extensive, and complete, — for the disadvan- 
tages which belong to the same stage of the biological 

Thus I have presented the principal philosophical cha- 
racters of the comparative method. It being the aim of 
biological study to ascertain the general laws of organic 
existence, it is plain that no course of inquiry could be 
more favourable than that which exhibits organic cases as 
radically analogous, and deducible from each other. 

This study of our means of exploration has shown that 
our resources do increase with the complexity of our subject. 
The two first methods — of Observation and Experiment — 
we have seen to acquire a large extension in the case of 
this science : while the third, before almost imperceptible, 
becomes, by the nature of the phenomena, wellnigh un- 
bounded in its scope. We have next to examine the true 
rational position of Biology in the hierarchy of the funda- 
mental sciences ; that is, its relation to those that precede 
it, and to the one which follows it, in order to ascertain 
what kind and degree of speculative perfection it admits 
of, and what preliminary training is best adapted to its 
systematic cultivation. By this inquiry we shall see why 


we are justified in assigning to it a place between chemistn' 
and social science. 

Relation of Bi- Of the relation of Biology to social science, 
ology to other I need say little here, as I shall have to speak 
sciences. of it at length in the next volume. My task 

will then be to separate them, rather than to establish their 
connection, which it is the tendency of our time to exag- 
gerate, through the spontaneous development of natural 
philosophy. None but purely metaphysical philosophers 
would at this day persist in classing the theory of the human 
mind and of society as anterior to the anatomical and phy- 
siological study of individual man. We may therefore 
regard this point as sufficiently settled for the present, 
and pass on to the relation of Biology to inorganic 

rw^ nu • + It is to chemistry that Biology is, by it« 

m ry. ^^^^^^^^ most directly and completely subordi- 
nated. In analyzing the phenomenon of life, we saw that 
the fundamental acts which, by their perpetuity, charac- 
terize that state, consist of a series of compositions and de- 
compositions ; and they are therefore of a chemical nature. 
Though in the most imperfect organisms, vital reactions are 
widely separated from common chemical effects, it is not 
the less true that all the functions of the proper organic 
life are necessarily controlled by those fundamental laws of 
composition and decomposition which constitute the subject 
of chemical science. If we could conceive throughout the 
whole scale the same separation of the organic from the 
animal life that we see in vegetables alone, the vital motion 
would offer only chemical conceptions, except the essential 
circumstances which distinguish such an order of mole- 
cular reactions. The general source of these important 
differences is, in my opinion, to be looked for in the result 
of each chemical conflict not depending only on the simple 
composition of the bodies between which it takes place, but 
being modified by their proper organization ; that is, by 
their anatomical structure. Chemistry must clearly f urnisn 
the starting-point of every rational theory of nutrition, 
secretion, and, in short, all the functions of the vegetative 
life, considered separately ; each of which is controlled by 


the influence of chemical laws, except for the special modi- 
fications belonging to organic conditions. If we now bring 
in again the consideration, discarded for the moment, of 
the animal life, we see that it could in no way alter this 
fundamental subordination, though it must greatly compli- 
cate its actual application : for we have seen that the 
animal life, notwithstanding its vast importance, can never 
be regarded in biology otherwise than as destined to extend 
and perfect the oi^nic life, whose general nature it cannot 
change. Such an intervention modifies, anew and largely, the 
chemical laws of the purely organic functions, so as to 
render the effect very difficult to foresee ; but not the less 
do these laws continue to control the aggregate of the 
phenomena. If, for instance, a change in the nervous 
condition of a superior organism disturbs a given secretion, 
as to its energy or even its nature, we cannot conceive that 
such an alteration can be of a random kind : such modifi- 
cations, irregular as they may appear, are still submitted 
to the chemical laws of the fundamental organic pheno- 
menon, which permit certain variations, but interdict many 
more. Thus, no complication produced by animal life can 
withdraw the organic functions from their subordination to 
the laws of composition and decomposition. This relation 
is so important, that no scientific theory could be conceived 
of in biology without it; since, in its absence, the most 
fundamental phenomena might be conceived of as suscep- 
tible of arbitrary variations, which would nqt admit of any 
true law. When we hear, at this day, on the subject of 
azote, such a doctrine as that the organism has the power 
of spontaneously creating certain elementary substances, 
we perceive how indispensable it still is to insist directly 
on those principles which alone can restrain the spirit 
of aberration. 

Besides this direct subordination of biology to chemistry, 
there are relations of method between them. Observation 
and experimentation being much more perfect in chemistry, 
they serve as an admirable training for biological inquiry. 
Again, a special property of chemistry is its developing the 
art of scientific nomenclature ; and it is in chemistry that 
biologists must study this important part of the positive 
method, though it cannot, from the complexity of their 



science, be of so much scientific value as in chemistry. It 
is on the model of the chemical nomenclature that those 
systematic denominations have been laid down by which 
biologists have classified the most simple anatomical 
arrangements, certain well-defined pathological states, and 
the most general degrees of the animal hierarchy : and it is 
by a continued pursuit of the same method that further 
improvements will be efEected. 

We thus see why biology takes its place next after 
chemistry, and why chemical inquiries constitute a natural 
transition from the inorganic to the organic philosophy, 
m pi^ . The subordination of biology to Physics 

^ ' follows from its relation to Chemistry : but 
there are also direct reasons, relating both to doctrine and 
method, why it should be so. 

As to doctrine, — it is clear that the general laws of one 
or more branches of Physics must be applied in the analysis 
of any physiological phenomenon. This application is 
necessary in the examination of the medium, in the first 
place ; and the analysis of the medium is required to be 
very exact, on account of the strong effect of its variations 
on phenomena so easily modified as those of the organism. 
And next, the organism itself is no less dependent on those 
laws, relating as they do to weight, heat, electricity, etc. 
It is obvious that if biology is related to chemistry through 
the organic life, it is related to physics by the animal life, 
— ^the most special and noble of the sensations, those of 
sight and hearing, requiring for the starting-point of their 
investigation an application of optics and acoustics. The 
same remark holds good in regard to the theory of utter- 
ance, and the study of animal heat and the electric proper- 
ties of the organism. It remains to be wished that the biolo- 
gists would study and apply these laws themselves, instead 
of committing the task to physicists : but they have hitherto 
followed too much the example of the physicists, who, as we 
have seen, have committed the application of mathematical 
analysis in their own science to the geometers ; whereas, it 
cannot be too carefully remembered that if the more general 
sciences are independent of the less general, which, on the 
other hand, must be dependent on them, the students of the 
higher must be unfit, in virtue of that very independence, 


to apply them to a more complex science, whose conditions 
thej cannot sufficiently imderstand. If the case was clear 
in regard to the intrusion of the geometers into physics, it 
is yet more so with regard to the intrusion of the physicists 
into biology ; on account of the more essential difference in 
the nature of the two sciences. The biologists should 
qualify themselves for the application of the preceding 
sciences to their own, instead of looking to the physicists 
for guidance which can only lead them astray. 

In regard to Method, biology is indebted to physics for 
the most perfect models of observation and experimenta- 
tion. Observations in physics are of a sufficient complexity 
to serve as a type for the same method in biology, if divested 
of their numerical considerations, which is easily done. 
Chemistry however can furnish an almost equally good 
model in simple observation. It is in experimentation 
that biologists may find in physics a special training for 
their work. As the most perfect models are found in the 
study of physics, and the method is singularly difficult in 
physiology, we see how important the contemplation of the 
best type must be to biologists. Such is the nature of the 
dependence, as to doctrine and method, of biology on 
physics. We turn next to its relations with Astronomy ; 
and first, with regard to doctrine. 

The relation of physiology to astronomy is rp a atronomv 
more important than is usually supposed. I "^ 

mean something more than the impossibility of under- 
standing the theory of weight, and its effects upon the 
organism, apart from the consideration of general gravita- 
tion. I mean, besides, and more specially, that it is impos- 
sible to form a scientific conception of the conditions of 
vital existence without taking into the account the aggregate 
astronomical elements that characterize the planet which is 
the home of that vital existence. We shall see more fully, 
in the next volume, how humanity is affected by these 
astronomical conditions; but we must cursorily review 
these relations in the present connection. 

The astronomical data proper to our planet are, of course, 
statical and dynamical. The biological importance of the 
statical conditions is immediately obvious. No one ques- 
tions the importance to vital existence of the mass of our 


planet in comparison with that of the sun, which deter* 
mines the intensity of gravity ; or of its form, which rege- 
lates the direction of the force; or of the fundamental 
equilibrium and the regular oscillations of the fluids which 
cover the greater part of its surface, and with which the 
existence of living beings is closely implicated; or of its 
dimensions, which limit the indefinite multiplication of 
races, and especially the human ; or of its distance from 
the centre of our system, which chiefly determines its tem- 
perature. Any sudden change in one or more of these 
conditions would largely modify the phenomena of life. 
But the influence of the dynamical conditions of astronomy 
on biological study is yet more important. Without the 
two conditions of the fixity of the poles as a centre of rota- 
tion, and the uniformity of the angular velocity of the earth, 
there would be a continual perturbation of the organic 
media which would be incompatible with life. Bichat 
pointed out that the intermittence of the proper animal 
life is subordinate in its periods to the diurnal rotation of 
our planet ; and we may extend the observation to all the 
periodical phenomena of any organism, in both the normal 
and pathological states, allowance being made for secondary 
and transient influences. Moreover, there is every reason 
to believe that, in every organism, the total duration of life 
and of its chief natural phases depends on the angular 
velocity proper to our planet; for we are authorized to 
admit that, other things being equal, the duration of life 
must be shorter, especially in the animal organism, in pro- 
portion as the vital phenomena succeed each other more 
rapidly. If the earth, were to rotate much faster, the course 
of physiological phenomena would be accelerated in propor- 
tion ; and thence life would be shorter ; so that the dura- 
tion of life may be regarded as dependent on the duration 
of the day. If the duration of the year were changed, the 
life of the organism would again be affected : but a yet 
more striking consideration is that vital existence is abso- 
lutely implicated with the form of the earth's orbit, as has 
been observed before. If that ellipse were to become, 
instead of nearly circular, as eccentric as the orbit of a 
comet, both the medium and the organism would undergo 
a change fatal to vital existence. Thus the small eccentri- 


city of the earth's orbit is one of the main conditions of bio- 
logical phenomena, almost as necessary as the stability of 
the earth's rotation ; and every other element of the annual 
motion exercises an influence, more or less marked, on bio- 
logical conditions, though not so great as the one we have 
adduced. The inclination of the plane of the orbit, for in- 
stance, determines the division of the earth into climates, 
and, consequently, the geographical distribution of living 
species, animal and vegetable. And again, through the 
alternation of seasons, it influences the phases of individual 
existence in all organisms ; and there is no doubt that life 
would be affected if the revolution of the line of the nodes 
were accelerated ; so that its being nearly immoveable has 
some biological value. These considerations indicate how 
necessary it is for biologists to inform themselves accu- 
rately, and without any intervention, of the real elements 
proper to the astronomical constitution of our planet. An 
inexact knowledge will not suffice. The laws of the limits 
of variation of the different elements, or, at least, a scientific 
analysis of the chief grounds of their permanence, are 
essential to biological investigation ; and these can be ob- 
tained only through an acquaintance with astronomical 
conceptions, both geometrical and mechanical. 

It may at first appear anomalous, and a breach of the 
encyclopedical arrangement of the sciences, that astronomy 
and biology should be thus immediately and eminently 
connected, while two other sciences lie between. But, 
indispensable as are physics and chemistry, astronomy 
and biology are, by their nature, the two principal branches 
of natural philosophy. They, the complements of each 
other, include in their rational harmony the general system 
of our fundamental conceptions. The solar system and 
Man are the extreme terms within which our ideas will 
for ever be included. The system first, and then Man, 
according to the positive course of our speculative reason : 
and the reverse in the active process: the laws of the 
system determining those of Man, and remaining un- 
affected by them. Between these two poles of natural 
philosophy the laws of physics interpose, as a kind of 
complement of the astronomical laws; and again, those of 
chemistry, as an immediate preliminary of the biological. 


Such being the rational and indissoluble constitution of 
these sciences, it becomes apparent why I insisted on the 
subordination of the study of Man to that of the system, 
as the primary philosophical characteristic of positive 

Though in the infancy of the human mind, when it was 
in its theological state, and in its youthful metaphysical 
stage, the order of these sciences was reversed, there was a 
preparation for the true view. Through all the fanciful 
notions of the ancient philosophy about the physiological 
influence of the stars, we discern a strong though vague 
perception of some connection between vital and celestial 
phenomena. Like all primitive intuitions of the under- 
standing, this one needed only rectification by the positive 
philosophy ; under the usual condition, however, of being 
partially overthrown in order to be reorganized. But 
modern students, finding no astronomical conditions in 
the course of their anatomical and physiological observa- 
tions, have discarded the idea of them altogether, — as if 
it were ever possible for facts to bear immediate testimony 
to the conditions without which they could not exist, and 
which do not admit of a moment's suspension ! Such an 
order of primitive conditions is however now established 
beyond dispute. In order to prevent any return to vicious 
or exaggerated notions about the physiological influence 
of the stars, it is enough to bear in mind two considera- 
tions: first, that the astronomical conditions of vital 
existence are comprised within our own planetary system ; 
and secondly, that they relate, not directly to the organism, 
but to its environment, affecting as they do the constitution 
of our globe. 

In regard to method, — the importance of astronomical 
study to biologists consists, as in other cases, in its offering 
the most perfect model of philosophizing on any phenomena 
whatever ; the importance of this example becoming greater 
in proportion to the complexity of the subordinate science, 
on account of the stronger temptation to discursive and 
idle inquiries offered by the latter. The more difficult 
their researches become, the more sedulous should physio- 
logists be to refresh their positive forces at the source of 
joositive knowledge ; and, in the contemplation of the few 


general and indisputable conceptions which constitute this 
lofty science, to be on their guard against the baseless 
notions of a vital principle, vital forces, and entities of 
that character. Hitherto, all advance in positivity in 
biology has been obtained at the expense of its dignity, 
which has always been implicated with an imaginary origin 
of life, of sensibility, etc. : but when physiologists have 
learned from their study of gravitation and other primary 
laws how to confine themselves to true science, their sub- 
ject will rise to the highest elevation that positivity admits 
of, — ^that rational prevision of events which is, as I have 
so often said, the end of true science : — an end to be aimed 
at in biology, as it is perfectly fulfilled in astronomy. 

Here, too, must biologists learn the character of sound 
scientific hypothesis. This method is eminently wanted in 
so complex a study as physiology ; but it has been as yet 
used with very little effect. The way is, undoubtedly, to 
determine the organ from the function, or the fimction 
from the organ. It is permissible to form the most 
plausible hypothesis as to the imknown function of a 
given organ, or the concealed organ of a manifest function. 
If the supposition be in harmony with existing knowledge, 
if it be held provisionally, and if it be capable of a positive 
verification, it may contribute to the progress of discovery, 
and is simply a use of a right of the human mind, exercised 
as in astronomy. The only eminent example known to me 
of sound hypothesis in biology is that of M. Broussais, in 
proposing the mucous membrane of the alimentary canal 
as the seat of so-called essential fevers. Whether he was 
mistaken or not, is not the question. His hypothesis being 
open to unquestionable confirmation or subversion, it gave 
a great impulse to the study of pathology in a positive 
manner: and it will stand in the history of the human 
mind, as the first example of the spontaneous introduction 
of a sound hypothetical method into the positive study 
of living beings: a method derived from the region of 

It remains to consider the relation of biology to mathe- 

The encroachments of the pure geometers To mathe- 
upon the domain of biology have been at- matics. 

II. D 


tended with the same mischief, but in an aggravated 
form, that we have witnessed in the case of other sciences. 
This mischief has led physiologists to repudiate mathe- 
matics altogether, and open an impassable gulf between 
themselves and the geometers. This is a mistake ; inas- 
much as their science cannot be severed from that which 
is the basis of the whole of natural philosophy; and it 
is only through the admission of this that they can main- 
tain the originality and independence of their scientific 
labours. The rational study of nature proceeds on the 
ground that all phenomena are subject to invariable laws, 
which it is the business of philosophical speculation to 
discover. It is needless to prove that on any other sup- 
position, science could not exist, and our collections of 
facts could yield no result. In the phenomena of living 
bodies, as in all others, every action proceeds according to 
precise, that is, mathematical laws, which we should ascer- 
tain if we could study each phenomenon by itself. The 
phenomena of the inorganic world are, for the most part, 
simple enough to be calculable : those of the organic world 
are too complex for our management : but this has nothing 
to do with any difference in their nature. And this is 
the view which both geometers and biologists should bear 
in mind. 

If in astronomy our calculations are baffled when we 
pass beyond two or three essential conditions, it is evident 
how impracticable they must be amidst the inextricable 
complications of physiology. And again, this complexity 
prevents our ever effecting a mathematical disclosure of 
the elementary laws of the science. This excludes all idea 
of this method of philosophiziug in biology ; for these laws 
are no otherwise accessible than by the immediate analysis 
of their numerical effects. Now, whichever way vital 
phenomena are looked at, they present such endless and 
incessant variations in their numbers, that geometers are 
baffled as completely as if those degrees were entirely 
arbitrary. Even namerical chemistry is inapplicable to 
bodies whose molecular composition varies incessantly ; 
and this is precisely the distinguishing character of living 
organisms. However hurtful may have been the incur- 
sions of the geometers, direct and indirect, into a domain 


wliicli it is not for them to cultivate, the physiologists are 
not the less wrong in turning away from mathematics 
ahiogether. ^ It is not only that without mathematics they 
could not receive their due preliminary training in the 
mteryening sciences : it is further necessary for them to 
have geometrical and mechanical knowledge, to under- 
stand the structure and the play of the complex apparatus 
of the living, and especially the animal organism. Animal 
mechanics, statical and dynamical, must be unintelligible 
to those who are ignorant of the general laws of rational 
mechanics. The laws of equilibrium and motion are, as 
we saw when treating of them, absolutely universal in 
their action, depending wholly on the energy, and not at 
all on the nature of the forces considered : and the only 
difficulty is in their numerical application in cases of com- 
plexity. Thus, discarding all idea of a numerical applica- 
tion in biology, we perceive that the general theorems of 
statics and dynamics must be steadily verified in the 
mechanism of living bodies, on the rational study of which 
they cast an indispensable light. The highest orders of 
animals act, in repose and motion, like any other mechani- 
cal apparatus of a similar complexity, with the one difference 
of the mover, which has no power to alter the laws of 
motion and equilibrium. The participation of rational 
mechanics in positive biology is thus evident. Mechanics 
cannot dispense with geometry ; and besides, we see how 
anatomical and physiological speculations involve con- 
siderations of form and position, and require a familiar 
knowledge of the principal geometrical laws which may 
cast light upon those complex relations. 

In regard to Method, the necessity of recurring to a per- 
fect model of reasoning, the more earnestly in proportion 
to the complexity of the science concerned, is applicable in 
regard to Mathematics, as to Astronomy ; only with still 
greater urgency. In mathematics we find the primitive 
source of rationality ; and to mathematics must the biolo- 
gists resort for means to carry on their researches. If 
biologists have hitherto not done this, but contented them- 
selves with what is called logic, apart from all determinate 
reasoning, much of the fault is chargeable upon the in- 
difference of geometers about duly organizing the whole of 


mathematical knowledge. The imperfect and inadequate 
character of the elementary treatises on mathematics that 
have hitherto been given to the world quite accounts for 
the neglect of the fundamental logical properties of mathe- 
matical science by even intelligent minds. It accounts also 
for the exaggerations of some philosophers, who maintain 
that, far from preparing the intellectual organ for the 
rational interpretation of nature, a mathematical education 
rather tends to develop a spirit of sophistical argumenta- 
tion and illusory speculation. Such an abuse, however, 
cannot affect the real value of mathematics as a means of 
positive education ; but rather exhibits the necessity of a 
philosophical renovation of the whole system of mathe- 
matical instruction. Whatever advantage can be attri- 
buted to logic in directing and strengthening the action of 
the understanding is found in a higher degree in mathe- 
matical study, with the immense added advantage of a de- 
terminate subject, distinctly circumscribed, admitting of 
the utmost precision, and free from the danger which is in- 
herent in all abstract logic, — of leading to useless and 
puerile rules, or to vain ontological speculations. The 
positive method, being everywhere identical, is as much at 
home in the art of reasoning as anywhere else : and this is 
why no science, whether biology or any other, can offer any 
kind of reasoning, of which mathematics does not supply a 
simpler and purer counterpart. Thus, we are enabled to 
eliminate the only remaining portion of the old philosophy 
which could even appear to offer any real utility ; the 
logical part, the value of which is irrevocably absorbed by 
mathematical science. Hither, then, must biologists come, 
to study the logical art so as to apply it to the advancement 
of their difficult researches. In this school must they learn 
familiarly the real characters and conditions of scientific 
evidence, in order to transfer it afterwards to the province 
of their own theories. The study of it here, in the most 
simple and perfect cases, is the only sound preparation for 
its recognition in the most complex. 

The study is equally necessary for the formation of intel- 
lectual habits ; for obtaining an aptitude in forming and 
sustaining positive abstractions, without which the com- 
parative method cannot be used in either anatomy or phy- 


siologj. The abstraction whicli is to be the standard of 
oomparison must be first clearly formed, and then steadily 
maintained in its integrity, or the analysis becomes abor- 
tive : and this is so completely in the spirit of mathema- 
tical combinations, that practice in them is the best pre- 
paration for it. A student who cannot accomplish the 
process in the more simple case may be assured that he is 
not qualified for the higher order of biological researches, 
and must be satisfied with the humbler office of collecting 
materials for the use of minds of another order. Hence 
arises another use of mathematical training ; — that of test- 
ing and classifying minds, as well as preparing and guiding 
them. Probably as much good would be done by exclud- 
ing the students who only encumber the science by aimless 
and desultory inquiries, as by fitly instituting those who 
can better fulfil its conditions. 

There seems no sufficient reason why the ,, . 
use of scientific fictions, so common in the ^j|^ fictions.' 
hands of geometers, should not be introduced 
into biology, if systematically employed, and adopted with 
sufficient sobriety. In mathematical studies, great advan- 
tages have arisen from imagining a series of hypothetical 
cases, the consideration of which, though artificial, may aid 
the clearing up of the real subject, or its fundamental 
elaboration. This art is usually confounded with that of 
hypotheses; but it is entirely different; inasmuch as in 
the latter case the solution alone is imaginary ; whereas in 
the former, the problem itself is radically ideal Its use 
can never be in biology comparable to what it is in mathe- 
matics : but it seems to me that the abstract character of 
the higher conceptions of comparative biology renders them 
susceptible of such treatment. The process would be to 
intercalate, among different known organisms, certain 
purely fictitious organisms, so imagined as to facilitate 
their comparison, by rendering the biological series more 
homogeneous and continuous : and it might be that several 
might hereafter meet with more or less of a realization 
among organisms hitherto unexplored. It may be possible, 
in the present state of our knowledge of living bodies, to 
conceive of a new organism capable of fulfilling certain 
given conditions of existence. However that may be, the 


collocation of real cases with well-imagined ones, after the 
manner of geometers, will doubtless be practised hereafter, 
to complete the general laws of comparative anatomy and 
physiology, and possibly to anticipate occasionally the 
direct exploration. Even now, the rational use of such an 
artifice might greatly simplify and clear up the ordinary 
system of pure biological instruction. But it is only the 
highest order of investigators who can be entrusted with 
it. Whenever it is adopted, it will constitute another 
ground of relation between biology and mathematics. 

We have now gone over all those grounds, — both of doc- 
trine and of method. Of the three parts of mathematics, 
Mechanics is connected with biology in the scientific point 
of view ; and geometry in the logical : while both rest upon 
the aiialytical theories which are indispensable to their sys- 
tematic development. 

This specification of the relations of biology determines 
its rank in the hierarchy of sciences. From this again we 
learn the kind and degree of perfection of which biology is 
susceptible ; and, more directly, the rational plan of pre- 
liminary education which it indicates. 
Condition and If the perfection of a science were to be 
prospects of estimated by the means of its pursuit, bio- 
the science. Jogy would evidently excel all others ; for we 
can concentrate upon it the whole of the resources of ob- 
servation and of reasoning offered by all the others, together 
with some of high importance appropriate to itself. Yet, 
all this wealth of resources is an insufficient compensation 
for the accumulated obstacles which beset the science. 
The difficulty is not so much in its recent passage into the 
positive state as in the high complexity of its phenomena. 
After the wisest use of all our resources, this study must 
ever remain inferior to all the departments of inorganic 
philosophy, not excepting chemistry itself. Still, its specu- 
hbtive improvement will be greater than might be supposed 
by those who are unaware how incomplete and barren is 
the accumulation of observations and heterogeneous con- 
ceptions which now goes by the name of the science. All 
that has yet been done should be regarded as a preliminary 
operation, — an ascertainment and trial of means, hitherto 


proyisional, but henceforth to be organized. Such an 
organization haying really taken place among a few quali- 
fied investigators, the state of the science may be regarded 
as very satisfactory. As for the direct establishment of 
biological laws, the few positive ideas that we have ob- 
tained justify the expectation that the science of living 
bodies may attain to a real co-ordination of phenomena, 
and therefore to their prevision, to a greater or smaller 

As for the requisite education, — ^as it com- 
prehends the study of the preceding sciences. Education 
from mathematics downwards, it is clearly 
of a more extensive and difficult order than any hitherto 
prescribed. But the time saved from the useless study of 
words, and from futile metaphysical speculations, would 
suffice for all the purposes of the regenerated science, 
which discards these encumbrances. 

If, next, we look at the reaction of the science on the 
education of the general mind, the first thing that strikes 
us is that the positive study of Man affords to observers 
the best test and measure of the mental power of those 
who pursue the study. In other sciences, the real power 
of the inquirer and the value of his acquisitions are con- 
cealed from popular estimate by the scientific artifices 
which are requisite for the pursuit; as in the case of 
mathematics, whose hieroglyphic language is very imposing 
to the uninitiated : so that men of extremely small ability, 
rendering very doubtful services, have obtained a high 
reputation for themselves and their achievements. But 
this can hardly take place in biology ; and the preference 
which popular good sense has accorded to the study of 
Man as a test of scientific intelligence is therefore well- 
grounded. Here the most important phenomena are 
common to all ; and the race may be said to concur in the 
study of Man : and, the more difficult and doubtful the 
ascertainment of general laws in so complex a science, the 
higher is the value of individual and original meditation. 
When these laws become better known, this originaUty 
will yield some of its value to the ability which will then 
be requisite for their application. The moral world will, 
under all future, as under all past circumstances, regard 


the knowledge of human nature as the most indubitable 
sign, and the commonest measure, of true intellectual 

The first intellectual influence of the science is in per- 
fecting, or rather developing, two of the most important 
of our elementary powers, which are little required by the 
preceding sciences; — the arts of comparison and of 
classification, which, however necessary to each other, are 
perfectly distinct. Of the first, I have said enough ; and 
of the second I shall speak hereafter ; so that I have now 
only to indicate its function in biology. 
A X r^i . The universal theory of philosophical 

flatten classifications, necessary not only to aid the 

memory but to perfect scientific combina- 
tions, cannot be absent from any branch of natural philo- 
sophy : but it is incontestable that the full development of 
the art of classification was reserved for biological science. 
As we have seen before, each of our elementary powers 
must be specially developed by that one of our positive 
studies which requires its most urgent application, and 
which, at the same time, offers it the most extended field. 
Under both aspects, biology tends, more than any other 
science, to favour the spontaneous rise of the general 
theory of classifications. First, no other so urgently claims 
a series of rational classifications, on account both of the 
multiplicity of distinct but analogous beings, and of the 
necessity of organizing a systematic comparison of them in 
the form of a biological hierarchy; and next, the same 
characteristics which demand these classifications facilitate 
their spontaneous establishment. The multiplicity and 
complexity are not, as might at first appear, obstacles to 
the systematic arrangement of subjects : on the contrary, 
they are aids, as the diversity of their relations offers a 
greater number of analogies, more extensive and easy to 
lay hold of. This is the reason why the classification of 
animals is superior to that of vegetables ; the greater 
variety and complexity of animal organisms affording a 
better hold for the art of classifying. And thus we see 
that the very difficulties of the science are of a nature at 
once to require and permit the most marked and sponta- 
neous development of the general art of classification ; and 


hither must the stiident in every other department of 
science resort, to form his conceptions of this all- important 
method. Here alone can geometers, astronomers, physicists, 
and even chemists learn the formation of natural groups, 
and their rational co-ordination ; and yet more, the general 
principle of the subordination of characteristics, which 
constitutes the chief artifice of the method. The biologists 
alone, at this day, can be in habitual possession of clear 
and positive ideas in these three relations. — Each of the 
fandamental sciences has, as we have already so often 
seen, the exclusive property of specially developing some 
one of the great logical procedures of which the whole 
positive method is composed ; and it is thus that the more 
complex, while dependent on the simpler, react on their 
superiors by affording them new rational powers and 
instruments. In this view of the hierarchical character 
and unity of the system of human knowledge, it becomes 
clear that the isolation still practised in the organization 
of our positive studies is as hurtful to their special pro- 
gress as to their collective action upon the intellectual 
government of the human race. 

Looking now to the higher function of influence of 
this science, — its influence upon the positive Biology upon 
spirit, as well as method, — we have only to the Positive 
try it by the test proposed before ; — its spirit, 
power of destroying theological conceptions in two ways : — 
by the rational prevision of phenomena, and by the volun- 
tary modification of them which it enables Man to exercise. 
As the phenomena of any science become more complex, 
the first power decreases, and the other increases, so that 
the one or the other is always present to show, unques- 
tionably, that the events of the world are not ruled by 
supernatural will, but by natural laws. Biological science 
eminently answers to this test. While its complexity 
allows little prevision, at present, in regard to its pheno- 
mena, it supplies us with a full equivalent, in regard to 
theological conceptions, in the testimony afforded by the 
analysis of the conditions of action of living bodies. The 
natural opposition of this species of investigation to every 
kind of theological and metaphysical conception is particu- 
larly remarkable in the case of intellectual and affective 


phenomena, — ^the positivism of which is very recent, 
and which, with the social phenomena that are derived 
from them, are the last battle-ground, in the popular view, 
between the positive philosophy and the ancient. In 
virtue of their complexity, these phenomena are precisely 
those which require the most determinate and extensive 
concurrence of various conditions, exterior and interior; 
so that the positive study of them is eminently fitted to 
expose the futility of the abstract explanations derived 
from the theological or metaphysical philosophy. Hence, 
we easily understand the marked aversion which this study 
is privileged to arouse among different sects of theologians 
and metaphysicians. As the labours of anatomists and 
physiologists disclose the intimate dependence of moral 
phenomena on the organism and its environment, there is 
something very striking in the vain efforts of followers of 
the old philosophies to harmonize with these facts the 
illusory play of supernatural influences or psychological 
entities. Thus has the development of biological science 
put the positive philosophy in possession of the very 
stronghold of the ancient philosophy. The same effect 
becomes even more striking in the other direction, from 
biological phenomena being, beyond all others, susceptible 
of modification from human intervention. We have a large 
power of affecting both the organism and its environment, 
from the very considerable number of the conditions which 
concur in their existence : and our voluntary power of dis- 
turbing phenomena, of suspending, and even destroying 
them, is so striking as to compel us to reject all idea of a 
theological or metaphysical direction. As in the other 
case, of which indeed it is a mere extension, this effect is 
most particularly marked in regard to moral phenomena, 
properly so called, which are more susceptible of modifica- 
tion than any others. The most obstinate psychologist 
could not well persist in maintaining the sovereign inde- 
pendence of his intellectual entities, if he would consider 
that the mere standing on his head for a moment would 
put a complete stop to the course of his own speculations. 
Much as we may wish that, in addition to these evidences, 
we had that of an extensive power of scientific prevision in 
biology, such a power is not needed for the conclusions of 


popular good sense. This prevision is not always baffled : 
and its success in a few marked cases is sufficient to satisfy 
the general mind that the phenomena of living bodies are 
subject, like all others, to invariable natural laws, which 
we are prevented from interpreting in all cases only by 
their extreme complexity. 

But, moreover, positive biology has a special conquest of 
its own over the theological and metaphysical systems, by 
which it has converted an ancient dogma into a new prin- 
ciple. In chemistry the same thing occurred when the 
primitive notion of absolute creation and destruction was 
converted into the precise conception of perpetual decom- 
position and recomposition. In Astronomy, the same 
thing occurred when the hypothesis of final causes and 
providential rule gave place to the view of the solar system 
as the necessary and spontaneous result of the mutual 
action of the principal masses which compose it. Biology, 
in its close connection with astronomy, has completed this 
demonstration. Attacking, in its own way, the elementary 
dogma of final causes, it has gradually transformed it into 
the fundamental principle of the conditions of existence, 
which it is the particular aptitude of biology to develope 
and systematize. It is a great error in anatomists and 
physiologists, — an error fatal both to science and theology, 
— ^to endeavour to unite the two views. Science compels 
us to conclude that there is no organ without a function, 
and no function without an organ. Under the old theo- 
logical influences, students are apt to fall into a state of 
anti-scientific admiration when they find the conditions and 
the fulfilment coincide, — when, having observed a func- 
tion, anatomical analysis discloses a statical position in the 
organism which allows the fulfilment of the function. This 
irrational and barren admiration is hurtful to science, by 
habituating us to suppose that all organic acts are effected 
as perfectly as we can imagine, thus repressing the expan- 
sion of our biological speculations, and inducing us to 
admire complexities which are evidently injurious : and it 
is in direct opposition to religious aims, as it assigns 
human wisdom as the rule and even the limit of the 
divine, which, if such a parallel is to be established, must 
often appear to be the inferior of the two. Though we 


cannot imagine radically new organisms, we can, as I 
showed in my suggestion about the use of scientific fictions, 
conceive of organizations which should differ distinctly 
from any that are known to us, and which should be in- 
contestably superior to them in certain determinate 
respects. The philosophical principle of the conditions of 
existence is in fact simply the direct conception of the 
necessary harmony of the statical and the dynamical 
analyses of the subject proposed. This principle is emi- 
nently adapted to the science of biology, which is con- 
tinually engaged in establishing a harmony between the 
means and the end ; and nowhere else, therefore, is seen in 
such perfection, that double analysis, statical and dynami- 
cal, which is found everywhere. 

These, then, are the philosophical properties of positive 
biology. To complete our review of the science as a whole, 
we have only to note briefly the division and rational co- 
ordination of its parts. 

^. ., . It does not fall within the scope of this 

oHh^ science ^^^^ ^ notice several branches of positive 

biological knowledge, which are of extreme 
importance in their own place, but secondary in regard to 
the principles of positive philosophy. We have no concern 
here with pathology, and the corresponding medical art; 
nor with natural history, and the corresponding art of the 
education of organisms. These are naturally, and not 
untruly, called biological studies : but we must here con- 
fine the term strictly to the speculative and abstract 
researches which are the foundation of the science. The 
interior distribution of the science, thus regarded, is this. 

The speculative and abstract study of the organism must 
be divided, first, into statics and dynamics ; according as 
we are seeking the laws of organization or those of life : 
and again, statical biology must be divided into two parts, 
to which M. de Blainville has given the name, in regard to 
animals, of zootomy and zootaxy, according as we study the 
structure and composition of individual organisms, or con- 
struct the great biological hierarchy which results from the 
comparison of all known organisms. It would be easy to 
modify M. de Blainville's terms so as to make them 
common to animals and vegetables. Dynamical biology, 


to which we may give the name hionomy, as the end and 
aim of the whole set of studies, evidently admits of no 
analogous subdivision. The general name of Biology thus 
includes the three divisions, biotomy, biotaxy, and pure 
bionomy, or physiology properly so called. 

Their definition exhibits their necessary dependence ; 
and thereby determines also their philosophical co-ordina- 
tion. While it is universally allowed that anatomical ideas 
are indispensable to physiological studies, because the 
structure must be known before its action oa.n be judged 
of, the subordination of bionomy to biotaxy is not so well 
imderstood. Yet it is easy to see that the place of any 
organism in the scale must be known before its aggregate 
phenomena can be effectually studied: and again, the 
consideration of this hierarchy is indispensable to the use 
of that grandest instrument of all — the comparative 
method. Thus, from every point of view, the double re- 
lation of dynamical to statical biology is unquestionable. 

The two divisions of statical biology are less clearly 
marked ; and it even appears as if, in regard to them, we 
were involved in a vicious circle : for if, on the one hand, 
the rational classification of living beings requires the 
antecedent knowledge of their organization, it is certain, 
on the other hand, that anatomy itself, like physiology, 
cannot be studied, in regard to all organisms, without an 
antecedent formation of the biological hierarchy. Thus we 
must admit a consolidation of the respective advancements 
of biotomic and biotaxic studies, through their intimate 
connection. In such a case, as a separation and determi- 
nate co-ordination are required by our understandings, it 
appears to me that we cannot hesitate to make a dogmatic 
arrangement,— placing the theory of organization before 
that of classification, — for the last is absolutely dependent 
on the first ; while the first could meet some wants, though 
in a restricted way, without the second. In a word, none 
but known organisms can be classified ; whereas they all 
can and must be studied, to a certain extent, without being 
mutually compared. And again, there is no reason why, 
in a systematic exposition of anatomical philosophy, we 
should not borrow directly from biotaxy its construction of 
the organic hierarchy j an anticipation which involves 


mucli less inconvenience than severing the complete study of 
stnicture. — However, it must be always borne in mind that 
any system will have to undergo a general revision, with a 
view to bringing out the essential relations of its parts : 
the relations, not only of the two sections of statical 
biology, but of both to the dynamical. This consideration 
goes far to diminish the importance assigned to these 
questions of priority : and the only reason why such a 
revision appears more necessary in biology than in the 
other sciences is, that there is a profounder accordance 
between its departments than we find in theirs. 

The interior distribution of these three departments is 
determined, as usual, by the order of dependence of phe- 
nomena, on the ground of their relative generality. Thus, 
the theory of the organic life precedes that of the animal : 
and the theory of the highest functions and organs of Man 
terminates the biological system. 

^, It has often been a question whether, in 

be<nn. studying each organ and function in the 

whole scale, it is best to begin at the one 
end or the other; — to begin with Man or the simplest 
known organism. 1 do not consider this question so all- 
important as it is often supposed, as all qualified inquirers 
admit the necessity of using the two methods alternately, 
whichever is taken first: but I think that a distinction 
should be made between the study of the organic and that 
of the animal life. The functions of the first being chemi- 
cal, it is less necessary to begin with Man ; and I think 
there may be a scientific advantage in studying the vege- 
table organism first, in which that kind of functions is the 
more pure and more marked, and therefore the more 
easily and completely studied: but every investigation, 
anatomical or physiological, relating to animal life, must 
be obscure if it began elsewhere than with Man, who is the 
only being in which such an order of phenomena is im- 
mediately intelligible. It is evidently the obvious state of 
Man, more and more degraded, and not the indecisive 
state of the sponge, more and more improved, that we 
should pursue, through the animal series, when we are 
analysing any of the constituent characters of animality. 
If we seem to be by this procedure deserting the ordinary 


course of passing from tlie most general and simple sub- 
ject to the most particular and complex, it is only to 
conform the better to the philosophical principal which 
prescribes that every course, and which leads us from the 
most known subjects to the least known. In all cases but 
this, the usual course is the fittest in biological studies. 

Here we conclude our review of biological science as a 
whole. The extent to which I have carried out the survey 
will allow us to consider its separate portions very briefly. 
In doing so, I shall follow the order just laid down, pass- 
ing from the simple considerations of pure anatomy to that 
positive study of the phenomena of the intellect and the 
affections, as the highest part of human nature, which will 
carry us over from biology to Social Physics, — the final 
object of this work. 




Development T T was during the second half of the last 
of Statical -L century that Daubenton and Vicq-d'Azyr 

biology. achieved the extension of the statical study 

of living bodies to the whole of known organisms ; and the 
lectures and writings of Cuvier carried on, and spread 
abroad, the regenerating influence of this great view. But, 
indispensable as was this conception to the development of 
anatomical science, it could not complete the character of 
statical biology without the aid and addition of Bichat's 
grand idea of the general decomposition of the organism 
into its various elementary tissues ; the high philosophical 
importance of which appears to me not yet to be worthily 

The natural development of comparative anatomy would, 
no doubt, have disclosed this analysis to us sooner or later : 
but how slow the process would have been we may judge 
by what we see of the reluctance of comparative anatomists 
to abandon the exclusive study of systems of organs while 
unable to deny the preponderant importance of the study 
of the tissues. Of all changes, those which relate to method 
are the most difficult of accomplishment; and perhaps 
there is no example of their resulting spontaneously from 
a regular advance under the old methods, without a direct 
impulsion from a new original conception, energetic enough 
to work a revolution in the system of study. Biology 
must, from its great complexity, be more dependent on such 
a necessity than any other science. 

Though zoological analysis furnishes the best means of 
separating the various organic tissues, and especially of 
giving precision to the true philosophical sense of this 
Process of great notion, pathological analysis offered a 

discovery of more direct and rapid way to suggest the 
the tissues. idea of such a decomposition, even re- 


garding the human organism alone. When pathological 
anatomy had been once founded by Morgagni, it was 
evident that in the best-marked maladies no organ is ever 
entirely diseased, and that the alterations are usually con- 
fined to some of its constituent parts, while the others pre- 
serve their normal condition. In no other way could the 
distinction of the elementary tissues have been so clearly 
established. By the co-existence in one organ of sound 
and impaired tissues, and, again, by different organs being 
affected by similar maladies, in virtue of the disease of a 
common tissue, the analysis of the chief anatomical elements 
was spontaneously indicated, at the same time that the 
study of the tissues was shown to be more important than 
that of the organs. It is not consistent with my objects 
to go further into this : but it was necessary to show that 
we owe to pathological analysis the perception of this 
essential truth. It was Pinel who suggested it to Bichat, 
by his happy innovation of studying at once all the diseases 
proper to the different mucous membranes. Bichat then, 
while knowing nothing of the study of the organic hierarchy, 
carried off from the students of comparative anatomy the 
honour of discovering the primitive idea which is most in- 
dispensable of all to the general advancement of anatomical 
philosophy. His achievement consisted in rationally con- 
necting with the normal condition a notion derived from 
the pathological condition, in virtue probably of the natural 
reflection that if the different tissues of the same organ 
could each be separately diseased in its own way, they 
must have, in their healthy condition, distinct modes of 
existence, of which the life of the organ is really composed. 
This principle was entirely overlooked before Bichat pub- 
lished the treatise in which he established the most satis- 
factory a posteriori development of it : and it is now placed 
beyond all question. The only matter of regret is that, 
in creating a wholly new aspect of anatomical science, 
Bichat bid not better mark its spirit by the title he gave 
it. If he had called it abstract or elementary instead of 
general anatomy, he would have indicated its philosophical 
function, and its relation to other anatomical points of 

The anatomical philosophy began to assume its definitive 

IT, E 


Combination character from the very recent time when 
with Compa- the human mind learned to combine the 
rative ana- two great primitive ideas of the organic hier- 
to^^y* archy, and of Bichat's discovery, which ap- 

plies the universal conception to the statical study of living 
bodies. These combined ideas are necessarily the subject 
of our present examination. Putting aside the irrational 
distinctions, still too common among biologists, of many 
difEerent kinds of anatomy, we must here recognize only 
one scientific anatomy, chiefly characterized by the philo- 
sophical combination of the comparative method with the 
fundamental notion of the decomposition of the organs 
into tissues. It is apparently strange that, after Bichat's 
discovery, comparative anatomists, with Cuvier at their 
head, should have persisted in studying organic apparatus 
in its complex state, instead of beginning with the investiga- 
tion of the tissues, pursuing the analysis of the laws of 
their combinations into organs, and ending with the group- 
ing of those organs into apparatus, properly so called : but 
not even Cuvier's great name can now prevent the applica- 
tion of the comparative method to the analysis of tissues, 
throughout the whole biological hierarchy. The work, 
though at present neither energetically nor profoundly 
pursued, is begun, and will reform the habitual direction 
of anatomical speculation. 

Bichat's studies related to Man alone ; and his method 
of comparison bore only upon the simplest and most 
restricted cases of all ; the comparison of parts and that of 
ages. His principle must, therefore, necessarily imdergo 
some transformations, to fit it for a more extensive applica- 

„, ^ , tion. The most important of these improve- 

Elements and ^ . • n • i • i • 

Products. ments, especially m a logical view, appears 

to me to consist in the great distinction intro- 
duced by M. de Blainville between the true anatomical 
elements and the simple products of the organism, which 
Bichat had confounded. We saw before the importance of 
this distiuction in the chemical study of organic substances : 
and we meet it again now, face to face, as an anatomical 

We have seen that life, reduced to the simplest and most 
general notioj^ of it, is characterized by the double con- 


tinuous motion of absorption and exhalation, owing to the 
reciprocal action of the organism and its environment, and 
adapted to sustain during a certain time, and within 
certain limits of variation, the integrity of the organization. 
It results from this that, at every instant of its existence, 
every living body must present, in its structure and com- 
position, two very different orders of principles : absorbed 
matters in a state of assimilation, and exhaled matters in a 
state of separation. This is the ground of the great 
anatomical distinction between organic elements and organic 
products. The absorbed matters, once completely assimi- 
lated, constitute the whole of the real materials of the 
organism. The exhaled substances, whether solid or fluid, 
become, from the time of their separation, foreign to the 
organism, in which they cannot generally remain long 
without danger. Eegarded in a soHd state, the true anato- 
mical elements. are always necessarily continuous in tissue 
with the whole of the organism: and again, the fluid 
elements, whether stagnant or circulating, remain in the 
depths of the general tissue, from which they are equally 
inseparable : whereas the products are only deposited, for 
a longer or shorter time, on the exterior or interior surface 
of the organism. The differences are not less characteristic, 
in a dynamical view. The true elements alone must be 
regarded as really living: they alone participate in the 
double vital motion : and they alone grow or decrease by 
absorption or exhalation. Even before they are finally ex- 
creted, the products are already essentially dead substances, 
exhibiting the same conditions that they would manifest 
anywhere else, under similar molecular influences. 

The separation of the elements from the products is not 
always easy to effect when, as frequently happens, they 
combine in the same anatomical arrangement to concur in 
the same function. All products are not, like sweat, urine, 
etc., destined to be expelled without further use in the 
organic economy. Several others, as saliva, the gastric 
fluid, bile, etc., act as exterior substances, and in virtue of 
their chemical composition in preparing for the assimilation 
of the organic materials. It is difficult to fix the precise 
moment when these bodies cease to be products and become 
elements ; — the moment, that is, when they pass from the 


inorganic to the organic state, — from death to life. But 
these difficulties arise from the imperfection of our analysis, 
and not from any uncertainty in the principle of separation. 
It may be observed however that there are circumstances 
in which products, and particularly among the solids, are 
closely united to true anatomical elements in the structure 
of certain apparatus, to which they supply essential means 
of improvement. Such are, for instance, the greater number 
of epidermic productions, the hair, and eminently the teeth. 
But even in this case, a sufficiently delicate dissection, and 
a careful analysis of the whole of the function will enable 
us to ascertain, with entire precision, how much is organic 
and how much inorganic in the proposed structure. Such 
an investigation was not prepared for when Bichat con- 
founded the teeth with the bones, and concluded the epidermis 
and the hair to be tissues, of a piece with the cutaneous 
tissue ; but the rectification which ensued was all-important, 
as enabling us to define the idea of tissue or anatomical 
element, which is the preferable term. It was through 
comparative anatomy that the rectification took place ; for 
the study of the biological series showed that the inorganic 
parts which in Man appear inseparable from the essential 
apparatus are in fact only simple means of advancement, 
gradually introduced at assignable stages of the ascending 
biological series. 

If we assert that in the order of purely anatomical specu- 
lations, the study of products must be secondary to that of 
elements, it will not be supposed that we undervalue the 
study of products. This study is of extreme importance in 
physiology, whose principal phenomena would be radically 
unintelligible without it; and without it pathologies^ 
knowledge must come to a stand. As results, they indi- 
cate organic alterations ; and as modifiers, they exhibit the 
origin of a great number of those alterations. In fact, the 
knowledge of them is much promoted by their separation 
from the anatomical elements, which withdraw the atten- 
tion of biologists from the real claims of the whole class of 

The consideration of products being once dismissed to its 
proper place, anatomical analysis has assumed its true 
character of completeness and clearness. Thus we may 


undertake now what was before impossible — an exact 
enumeration of anatomical elements. And again, these 
tissues can be classified according to their true general re- 
lations ; and may even be reduced to a single tissue, modi- 
fied by determinate laws. These two are the other chief 
transformations undergone by the great anatomical theory 
of Bichat, through the application of the comparative 
method : and these two we now proceed to review. 

The first is connected with the great ques- ^. .. . . 
tion of the vitality of the organic fluids, about organic fluids^ 
which our ideas are far from being, I think, 
sufficiently settled. Every living body consists of a com- 
bination of solids and fluids, the respective proportions of 
which vary, according to the species, within very wide 
limits. The very definition of the vital state supposes this 
conjunction ; for the double motion of composition and de- 
composition which characterizes life could not take place 
among soh'ds alone ; and, on the other hand, a liquid or 
gaseous mass not only requires a solid envelope, but could 
admit of no real organization. If the two great primitive 
ideas of Life and Organization were not inseparable, we 
might imagine the first to belong to fluids, because they 
are so readily modified ; and the other to soHds, as alone 
capable of structural formation : and here, under another 
view, we should find the necessary harmony of the two 
elements. The comparison of types in the biological series 
confirms, in fact, the general rule that the vital activity in- 
creases with the preponderance of fluid elements in the 
organism ; while a greater persistence of the vital state 
attends the preponderance of soUds. This has long been 
regarded as a settled law by philosophical biologists, in 
studying the series of ages alone. These considerations 
seem to show that the controversy about the vitality of 
fluids rests, like many other famous controversies, on a 
vicious proposal of the problem, since such a mutual rela.- 
tion of the solids and the fluids excludes at once both 
humourism and solidism. Discarding, of course, the pro- 
ducts from the question, there can be no doubt that the 
fluid elements of the organism manifest a life as real as 
that of the solids. The founders of modem pathology, in 
their reaction against the old humourism, have not paid 


sufficient attention, in the theory of diseases, to the direct 
and spontaneous alterations of which the organic fluids^ 
especially the blood, are remarkably susceptible, in virtue 
of the complexity of their composition. It would appear^ 
from a philosophical point of view, very strange if the most 
active and susceptible of the anatomical elements did not 
participate, primarily or consecutively, in the perturbations 
of the organism. But, on the other hand, it is not less 
certain that the fluids, animal and vegetable, cease to live 
as soon as they have quitted the organism ; as, for instance, 
the blood after venesection. They then lose all organiza- 
tion, and are in the condition of products. The vitality of 
the fluids, considered separately, constitutes them an ill- 
defined, and therefore interminable, question. 

A truly positive inquiry however arises out of the ques- 
tion — the inquiry as to which of the immediate principles 
of a fluid are vital ; for it cannot be admitted that all are 
so indiscriminately. Thus, the blood being chiefly com- 
posed of water, it would be absurd to suppose such an inert 
vehicle to participate in the life of the fluid; but then, 
which of the other constituents is the seat of life ? Micro- 
scopic anatomy gives us the answer,— that it resides in the 
globules, properly so called, which are at once organized 
and living. However valuable such a solution would be, 
it can be regarded at present only as an attempt ; for it 
is admitted that these globules, though determinate in 
form, shrink more and more as the arterial blood passes 
through an inferior order of vessels, — that is, as it ap- 
proaches its incorporation with the tissues ; and that, at 
the precise moment of assimilation, there is a complete 
liquefaction of the globules. It would thus appear that 
we must cease to regard the blood as living at the very 
moment when it accomplishes its chief act of vitality. 
Before any decision can be made, we must have the counter 
proof, — ^the acknowledgment that true globules are exclu- 
sively characteristic of living fluids, in opposition to those 
which, as simple products, are essentially inert, and hold 
in suspension various solids, which make them difficult to 
be distinguished from true globules, notwithstanding the 
determinate form of the latter. Microscopical observationis 
are too delicate, and sometimes deceptive, to admit at pre- 


sent of the irreversible establishment of this essential point 
of anatomical doctrine. 

The statical study of living bodies would form but a very 
incomplete introduction to the dynamical, if the fluids were 
left out of the investigation of the organic elements, how- 
ever much remains to be desired in our knowledge of them. 
The omission of them in Bichat's treatise leaves a great 
gap. Still, as the anatomy of solids must always take pre- 
cedence of that of fluids, Bichat chose the true point of de- 
parture, though he did not undertake the whole subject. 
It must be added that the examination of the fluids is so 
much the more difficult of the two as to be wellnigh im- 
practicable. In an anatomical sense, it is impracticable : 
and the two only methods, — microscopical and chemical 
examination, — are impaired by the rapid disorganization 
which ensues when the fluids quit the organism. The 
chemical method is in itself the more valuable of the two : 
but, besides that the chemists habitually confound the 
elements and the products, they have always examined the 
former in a more or less advanced state of decomposition : 
and, being unaware of this, they have offered only the 
most false and incoherent notions of the molecular consti- 
tution of the organized fluids. In such a state of things, 
it is only by a full preparation, from the study of the solid 
elements, that anything can be done in the study of the 
fluids. It is almost needless to say that by the same rule 
which prescribes this order, we should study fluids in the 
order of their increasing liquefaction, — taking the fatty 
substances first, then the blood and other liquids, and 
lastly the vaporous and gaseous elements, which will always 
be the least understood. 

The order of inquiry being thus settled, ^, .« . 
the next subject is the rational classification ^^ ^^le tissues, 
of the tissues, according to their anatomical 
filiation. It was not by such a study as Bichat's, — of Man 
alone, — that anything certain could become known of such 
obscure differences as those of the fundamental tissues. 
In order to obtain such knowledge the study of the whole 
biological series is indispensable. 

The first piece of knowledge thus ob- Organic. 
tained is that the cellular tissue is the Cellular tissue. 


primitive and essential web of every organism ; it being 
the only one that is present through the whole range of 
the scale. The tissues which appear in Man so multiplied 
and distinct lose all their characteristic attributes as we 
descend the series, and tend to merge entirely in the 
general cellular tissue, which remains the sole basis of 
vegetable, and perhaps of the lowest animal organiza- 
tion. This fact harmonizes well with the philosophical 
account of the basis of life, in its last degree of simplicity ; 
for the cellular tissue is eminently fitted, by its structure, 
for absorption and exhalation. At the lower end of the 
series, the living organism, placed in an unvarying medium, 
does nothing but absorb and exhale by its two surfaces, 
between which are ever oscillating the fluids destined for 
assimilation, and those which result from the contrary pro- 
cess. For so simple a function as this the cellular tissue 
suffices. It remained to be ascertained under what laws 
the original tissue becomes gradually modified so as to en- 
gender all the others, with those attributes which at first 
disguise their common derivation : and this is what Com- 
parative anatomy has begun to establish, with some dis- 

The characteristic modifications of the tissue are of two 
prominent classes : the first, more common and less pro- 
found, are limited to the simple structure : the other class, 
more special, and more profound, afEect the composition 

Of the first order the prominent case is that of the der- 
mous tissue, properly so called, which is 
tissue. *^^ basis of the general organic envelope, ex- 

terior and interior. The modification here is 
mere condensation, differently marked, in regard to animal 
organisms, according as the surface is, as in exterior sur- 
faces, more exhalant than absorbent, or, as in interior sur- 
faces, more absorbent than exhalant. Even this first trans- 
formation is not rigorously universal ; and we must ascend 
the scale a little way to find it clearly characterized. Not 
only in some of the lowest of the animal organisms, are 
the exterior and interior essentially alike, so that the 
two surfaces may be interchanged, but, if we go a little 
lower, we find no anatomical distinction between the en- 


yelope and the whole of the organism, which is uniformly 


By an increasing condensation of the parent tissue, three 

distinct but inseparable tissues proceed from the derma, 

all of which are destined to an important, though passive 

office in the animal economy, either as envelopes protecting 

the nervous organs, or as auxiliaries of the locomotive 

apparatus. These are the fibrous, cartilaginous, and bony 

tissues, ranged by Bichat in their rational order, and 

named by M. Laurent, in their combination, « , . . 

., , -^ .. mi. ji'jx X J £ Sclerous tissue. 

the sclerovs tissue. The different degrees of 

consolidation here arise from the deposition in the cellular 
network of a heterogeneous substance, organic or inorganic, 
the extraction of which leaves do doubt as to the nature of 
the tissue. When, on the other hand, by a last direct con- 
densation, the original tissue becomes itself more compact, 
without being incrusted by a foreign substance, we recog- 
nize a new modification, in which impermeability becomes 
compatible with suppleness, which is the characteristic of 

the serous, or (as M, Laurent calls it) the -v^ . .. 

, , ,. .i «. J! !_• 1 • X • J. Kystous tissue. 

hystous tissue, the office of which is to inter- ^ 

pose between the various mobile organs, and to contain 

liquids, both circulating and stagnant. 

The second order of transformations ex- Animal. 
hibits two secondary kinds of tissue which Muscular and 
distinguish the animal organism, and which nervous tissues, 
appear at about the same degree of the scale — the muscular 
and the nervous tissues. In each there is an anatomical 
combination of the fundamental tissue with a special 
oi^nic element, semi-solid and eminently vital, which, 
having long gone by the name of fibrine in the first case, 
has suggested the corresponding name of neurine (given 
us by M. de Blainville) for the other. Here the trans- 
formation of the parent tissue is so complete, that it would 
be difficult to establish, and yet more to detect it in the 
higher organisms ; but the analogies of comparative ana- 
tomy leave no doubt, and only make us wish that we could 
understand with more precision the mode of anatomical 
union of the muscular and nervous substances with the 
cellular tissue. 

Passing on to the chief subdivision of each of the 


secondary tissues, the first consideration is of the general 
position, which is always related to a modification, greater 
or smaller, of the structure itself. Comparative aiialysis 
shows us that in the case of both the muscular and the 
nervous system, the organization of the tissue becomes 
more special and elevated, exactly in proportion to its 
deeper position between the exterior and interior surfaces 
of the animal envelope. Thence arises the rational division 
of each of these systems into superficial and profound. 
This distinction is more especially remarkable with regard 
to the nervous system, arranged, first, in the form of fila- 
ments, and afterwards that of ganglions, with or without 
external apparatus. 

This is the family of tissues, the study of which forms 
the basis of anatomical analysis. It would be departing 
from my object to inquire into the laws of composition 
under which the ascent is made from this primary study 
to that of porous substances, and thence on to the theory 
of the organs, and then to that of systems of organs, which 
would lead us on to physiological analysis. I have ful- 
filled the aim of this section in exhibiting the methodical 
connection of the four degrees of anatomical speculation, 
about which no real uncertainty exists. 
, . . . - Deeper than this we cannot go. The last 
the inquirv. ^©^'ni in our abstract, intellectual decomposi- 
tion of the organism is the idea of tissue. 
To attempt the passage from this idea to that of molecule, 
which is appropriate to inorganic philosophy, is to quit the 
positive method altogether: and those who do so, under 
the fancy that they may possibly establish a notion of 
organic molecules, and who give that vain search the name 
of transcendental anatomy, are in fact imitating the 
chemists in a region into which Chemistry must enter in 
its own shape where admissable at all, and are asserting 
in other words that, as bodies are formed of indivisible 
molecules, animals are formed of animalcules. This is 
simply an attempt, in the old spirit, to penetrate into the 
nature of existences, and to establish an imaginary analogy 
between orders of phenomena which are essentially hetero^ 
geneous. It is little creditable to the scientific spirit of 
our time that this aberration should call for exposure and 



rebuke, and that it should need to be asserted that the 
idea of tissue is, in organic speculation, the logical equiva- 
lent of the idea of molecule in inorganic speculation. 

We here find ourselves in possession of a sufficient basis 
of anatomical science, while we need yet a more complete 
and profound combination of the ideas of comparative and 
textural anatomy. This want will be supplied when we 
become universally familiarized with the four analytical 
degrees, complementary to each other, which must hence- 
forth be recognized and treated as the basis of anatomical 




AFTER the statical analysis of living bodies, there must 
be a hierarchical co-ordination of all known, or even 
possible organisms, in a single series, which must serve as 
a basis for the whole of biological speculations. The 
essential principles of this philosophical operation are what 
I have now to point out. 

Comparative ^® have already seen that it is the dis- 
anatoray of tinction of biological science to have de- 
vegetables and veloped the theory of classifications, which, 
animals. existing in all sciences, attains its perfection 

when applied to the complex attributes of the animal 
organisms. In all ages, the vegetable organism was the 
direct subject of biological classification ; but it was pur- 
sued on the principles furnished by the consideration of 
animals, whence the type was derived which guided philo- 
sophical speculation in the case. It could not be other- 
wise, so marked and incontestable as are the distinctions 
among animal organisms : and even the zoological classifi- 
cation of Aristotle, imperfect as it is, is infinitely superior 
to anything which could then have been attempted with 
regard to vegetables. This natural original classification 
has been rather rectified than changed by the labours of 
modem times ; while that of vegetables has met with an 
opposite fate. As a fact, the first successful attempts in 
the animal region long preceded the establishment of the 
true principles of classification ; whereas, it was only by a 
laborious systematic application of these principles that it 
has been possible, even within a century, to effect any 
rational co-ordination in the vegetable region, so little 
marked, in comparison, are the distinctions in the latter 
case. The natural result was that the animal realm, used 
as a type, became more and more attended to, till the 


improvements in zoological classification have gone so far 
as perhaps to lead us to fear that the vegetable organism, 
owing to its great simplicity, can never become subject to 
a much better classification than that in which it was left 
in the last century. The labours of the reformers of that 
time are very far indeed from having been useless ; only, 
what they imdertook for the vegetable kingdom has turned 
rather to the profit of the animal ; — an inevitable circum- 
stance, since the property which rendered the animal king- 
dom the natural type of the taxonomical series must adapt 
it to receive all the improvements arising from the general 
principles of the theory. The character of the theory could 
not but remain incomplete, however, as long as the vege- 
table classification continued to be regarded as the cluef 
end of the research ; and the classification became rational 
only when it was seen that the vegetable region was the 
further end of the series, in which the most complex 
animal organism must hold the first place; an order of 
arrangement under which the vegetable organism will be 
more effectually studied than it ever was while made an 
object of exclusive investigation. All that is needed is 
that naturalists should extend to the whole series the 
anatomical and physiological considerations which have 
been attached too exclusively to animal organisms; and 
this will certainly be done now that the human mind is 
fairly established at the true point of view, commanding 
the fundamental theory of natural classification. 

These prefatory remarks indicate our Animal ana- 
theme. We must have the whole series in tomy our sub- 
view ; but the animal region must be our J®®** 
immediate and explicit subject, — both as furnishing the 
rational bases of the general theory of classification, 
and as exhibiting its most eminent and perfect appli- 

The subject divides itself into two parts : Division of 
the formation of natural groups, and their the natural 
hierarchical succession ; — a division neces- method, 
sary for purposes of study, though the two parts ultimately 
and logically coalesce. 

In contemplating the groups, the process j^j^^ural ctouds 
is to class together these species which pre- ^ ^' 


sent, amidst a yariety of differences, such essential analo- 
gies as to make them more like each other than like 
any others, — without attending, for the present, to the 
gradation of the groups, or to their interior distribution. 
If this were all, the classification must remain either 
doubtful or arbitrary, as the circumscription of each group 
could seldom be done so certainly as ineyitably to include 
or exclude nothing that might not belong to another group : 
and great discordance was therefore observed in the early 
division into orders, families, and even genera. But the 
difficulty disappears on the foundation of the fundamental 
hierarchy, which rigorously assigns its place to each species, 
and clearly defines the ideas of genera, families, and classes, 
which henceforth indicate different kinds of decomposition, 
effected through certain modifications of the principle 
which graduates the whole series. The animal realm, 
especially in its higher parts, is as yet the only one in 
which the successive degrees have admitted a fully scientific 
description. The rough classification into natural groups 
was an indispensable preparation for the marshalling into 
a series of the immeasurable mass of materials presented 
by nature. The groups being thus separated, and the 
study of the irint-erior distribution postponed, the innumer- 
able throng of organic existences became manageable. 
This great benefit has misled botanists into the supposition 
that the formation of these groups is the most scientific 
part of the natural method, — otherwise than as a prelimi- 
nary process. The regular establishment of natural fami- 
lies offers, no doubt, great facilities to scientific study, by 
enabling a single case to serve for a whole group : but this 
is a wholly different matter from the value of the natural 
method, regarded as it must henceforth be, as the highest 
rational means of the whole study, statical and dynamical, 
of the system of living bodies ; and the great condition of 
which is that the mere position assigned to each body 
makes manifest its whole anatomical and physiological 
nature, in its relation to the bodies which rank before 
or after it These properties could never belong to any 
. mere establishment of natural families, if 
oUhem ° *^®7 could be grouped with a perfection 

which is f a^ from being possible ; for . the 


arbitiury arrangement of the families, and the indetermi- 
nate decomposition of each of them into species, would 
destroy all aptitude for comprehensive anatomical or 
physiological comparison, and open the way for that search 
after partial and secondary analogies which we see to be so 
mischieYous in the study of the vegetable kingdom at this 

The Natural Method, then, is philosophically charac- 
terized by the general establishment of the organic hier- 
archy, reduced, if desired, to the rational co-ordination of 
genera and even of families, the realization of which is 
found only in the animal region ; and there only in an 
initiatory state. And the co-ordination proceeds under 
three great laws, which are these : first, that ^, 
the arumaJ s^s present a perpetually in- J^^^^i^?,"* 
creasing complexity, both as to the diversity, 
the multiplicity, and the speciality of their organic 
elements, and as to the composition and augmenting 
variety of their organs and systems of organs. Secondly : 
that this order corresponds precisely, in a dynamical view, 
with a life more complex and more active, composed of 
functions more numerous, more varied, and better defined. 
Thirdly : that the living being thus becomes, as a necessary 
consequence, more and more susceptible of modification, at 
the same time that he exercises an action on the external 
world, continually more profound and more extensive. It 
is the union of these three laws which rigorously fixes the 
philosophical direction of the biological hierarchy, each one 
dissipating any uncertainty which might hang about the 
other two. Hence results the possibility of conceiving of a 
final arrangement of all living species in such an order 
as that each shall be always inferior to all that precede 
it, and superior to all that follow it, whatever might 
otherwise, from its nature, be the difficulty of ever 
realizing the hierarchical type to such a degree of pre- 
cision as this. 

All adequate inquirers are now agreed upon this con- 
ception as the starting-point of biological speculation ; and 
I need not therefore stop to take notice of any prior con- 
troversies, except one, which is noticeable from its having 
tended to illustrate and advance the principle of the 


natural method. I refer to tlie discussion raised by 
Question of Lamarck, and maintained, though in an im- 
permanence of perfect manner, by Cuvier, with regard to 
organic species, the general permanence of organic species. 
The first consideration in this matter is, that whatever may 
be the final decision of this great biological question, it can 
in no way affect the fundamental existence of the organic 
hierarchy. Instead of there being, as Lamarck conjectured, 
no real zoological series, all animal organisms being iden- 
tical, and their characteristics due to external circum- 
stances, we shall see, by a closer examination, that the 
hypothesis merely presents the series imder a new aspect, 
which itself renders the existence of the scale more clear 
and unquestionable than before ; for the whole zoological 
series would then become, in fact and in speculation, per- 
fectly analogous to the development of the individual ; at 
least, in its ascending period. There would be simply 
a long determinate succession of organic states, gradually 
deduced from each other in the course of ages by transfor- 
mations of growing complexity, the order of which, neces- 
sarily linear, would be precisely comparable to that of the 
consecutive metamorphoses of hexapod insects, only much 
more extended. In brief, the progressive course of the 
animal organism, which is now only a convenient abstrac- 
tion, adapted to facilitate thought by abridging discourse, 
would thus be converted into a real natural law. This 
controversy, then, in which Lamarck showed by far the 
clearer and profounder conception of the organic hierarchy, 
while Cuvier, without denying, often misconceived it, leaves, 
in fact, wholly untouched the theory of the biological series, 
which is quite independent of all opinion about the perma- 
nence or variation of living species. 

The only attribute of this series which could be affected 
by this controversy is the continuity or discontinuity of the 
organic progression : for, if we admit Lamarck's hypo- 
thesis, in which the different organic states succeed each 
other slowly by imperceptible transitions, the ascending 
series must evidently be conceived of as rigorously con- 
tinuous; whereas, if we admit the stability of living 
species, we must lay down as a fundamental principle the 
discontinuousness of the series, without preten^g, either, to 

i»a.marck's hypothesis. 65 

limit, a priori, in any way the small elementary intervals. 
This is the question to be considered ; and thus restricted, 
the discussion is of extreme importance to the general ad- 
vancement of the Natural Method, which will be, in fact, 
much more clearly described if we are able to regard the 
species as essentially stable, and the organic series there- 
fore as composed of distinctly separate terms, even at its 
highest stages of development; for the idea of species, 
wMch is the principal biotaxic unity, would no longer allow 
any scientific definition, if we must admit the indefinite 
transformation of difEerent species into each other, under 
the sufficiently-prolonged influence of circumstances suffi- 
ciently intense. However certain might be the existence 
of the biological hierarchy, we should have almost insur- 
mountable difficulty in r^ilizing it ; and this proves to us 
the high philosophical interest which belongs to this great 

Lamarck's reasoning rested on the combination of these 
two incontestable but ill-described principles: first, the 
aptitude of any organism (and especially an animal 
organism) to be modified to a conformity to the exterior 
circumstances in which it is placed, and which solicit the 
predominant exercise of some special organ, corresponding 
to some faculty become requisite ; and secondly, the ten- 
dency of direct and individual modifications to become 
fixed in races by hereditary transmission, so that they may 
increase in each new generation, if the environment remains 
unaltered. It is evident that if this double property is 
admitted without restriction, all organisms may be re- 
garded as having been produced by each other, if we only 
dispose the environment with that freedom and prodi- 
gality so easy to the artless imagination of Lamarck. 
The falseness of this hypothesis is now so fully admitted 
by naturalists that I need only briefly indicate where its 
vice resides. 

We need not stop to object to the immeasurable time 
required for each system of ci!tcumstances to effect such an 
organic transformation ; nor yet to expose the futility of 
imagining organic environments, purely ideal, which are 
out of all analogy with existing media. We may pass on 
to the consideration that the conjecture rests on a deeply 

jr. p 


erroneous notion of the nature of the living organism. 
The organism and the medium must doubtless be mutually 
related ; but it does not follow that either of them pro* 
duces the other. The question is simply of an equilibrium 
between two heterogeneous and independent powers. If 
all possible organisms had been placed in all possible 
media, for a suitable time, the greater number of them 
would necessarily disappear, leaving those only which were 
accordant with the laws of the fundamental equilibrium 5 
and it is probably by a series of eliminations like this that 
a biological harmony has become gradually established on 
our globe, where we see such a process now for ever going 
on. But the whole conception would be overthrown at 
once if the organism cduld be supposed capable of modifi- 
cation, ad infinitum, by the influence of the medium, 
without having any proper and indestructible energy of 
its own. 

Though the solicitation of external circumstances cer- 
tainly does change the primitive organization by develop- 
ing it in some particular direction, the limits of the 
alteration are very narrow: so that, instead of wants 
creating faculties, as Lamarck would have us believe, those 
wants merely develop the powers to a very inconsiderable 
degree, and could have no influence at all without a 
primitive tendency to act upon. The disappearance of the 
superior races of animals before the encroachments of Man 
shows how limited is the power of the organism to adapt 
itself to an altered environment ; even the human barba- 
rian gives way to civilized Man: and yet the power of 
adaptation is known to be greatest in the highest 
organisms, whereas the hypothesis of Lamarck would 
require the fact to be the other way. Li a statical view, 
too, this conception would compel us to regard the intro- 
ductory animal as containing, at least in a rudimentary 
state, not only all the tissues, (which might be admissible, 
reducible as they are to the cellular tissue,) but all the 
organs and systems of organs ; which is incompatible with 
anatomical comparison. Thus, in every view is Lamarck's 
conception condemned : and it even tends to destroy the 
philosophical balance between the two fundamental ideas 
of organization and life, by leading us to suppose most life 

cuvier's argument, &7 

where there is least oi^nization. The lesson that we may 
learn from it is to study more effectually the limits within 
which, in each case, the medium may modify the organism, 
about which a very great deal remains to be learned : and 
meantime, there can scarcely be a doubt, especially after 
the luminous exposition of Cuvier, that species remain 
essentially fixed through all exterior variations compatible 
with their existence. 

Cuvier's argument rests upon two chief considerations, 
complementary to each other; — ^the permanence of the 
most ancient known species ; and the resistance of existing 
species to the most powerful modifying forces: so that, 
&^ty the number of species does not diminish ; and next, 
it does not increase. We go back for evidence to the 
descriptions of Aristotle, twenty centuries ago: we find 
fossil species, identical with those before our eyes : and we 
observe in the oldest mummies even the simple secondary 
differences which now distinguish the races of men. And, 
as to the second view, we derive evidence from an exact 
analysis of the effects of domestication on races of animals 
and vegetables. Human intervention, affording, as it does, 
the most favourable case for alteration of the organism, 
has done nothing more, even when combined with change 
of locality, than alter some of the qualities, without touch- 
ing any of the essential characters of any species ; no one 
of which has ever been transformed into any other. No 
modification of race, nor any influences of the social state, 
have ever varied the fundamental and strongly marked 
nature of the human species. Thus, without straying into 
any useless speculations about the origin of the different 
organisms, we rest upon the great natural law that living 
species tend to perpetuate themselves indefinitely, with the 
same chief characteristics, through any exterior changes 
compatible with their existence. In non-essentials the 
species is modified within eertain limits, beyond which it 
is not modified but destroyed. To know thus much is 
good : but we must remember that it teaches us nothing, 
with any completeness, of the kind of influence exercised 
by the medium on the organism. The rational theory of 
this action remains to be formed : and the laying down the 
question was the great result of the Lamarck controversy, 


which thus rendered an eminent service to the progress of 
sound biological philosophy. 

We may now proceed on the authorized conception that 
the great biological series is necessarily discontinuous. 
The transitions may ultimately become more gradual, by 
the discovery of intermediate organisms, and by a better 
directed study of those already known : but the stability 
of species makes it certain that the series will always be 
composed of clearly distinct terms separated by impractic- 
able intervals. It now appears that the preceding exami- 
nation was no needless digression, but an inquiry necessary 
to establish, in the hierarchy of living bodies, this cha- 
racteristic property, so directly involved in the rational 
establishment of the hierarchy itself. 
Two logical Having surveyed the two great conceptions 

conditions of of Natural Groups, and the biological series, 
the study. which together constitute what is called the 
Natural Method, we must now notice two great logical 
conditions of the study. The first, or primordial, is the 
principle of the subordination of characters: the other, 
the final, prescribes the translation of the interior cha- 
racters into exterior, which, in fact, results from a radical 
investigation of the same principle. 

Subordination From the earliest use of the natural 
of characterise method, even before the investigation had 
*^^* passed on from the natural groups to the 

series of them, it was seen that the taxonomic characters 
must be not only numbered but weighed, according to the 
rules of a certain fundamental subordination which must 
exist among them. The only subordination which is 
strictly scientific, and free from all arbitrary intermixture, 
is that which results from a comparative analysis of the 
different organisms: this analysis is of recent date, and 
even yet is adequately applied only in the animal region ; 
and thus the subordination was no more than barely con- 
ceived of before the institution of comparative anatomy, 
and the weighing of attributes is closely connected with 
the conception of the organic hierarchy. The subordina- 
tion of taxonomic characters is effected by measuring their 
respective importance according to the relation of the cor- 
responding organs to the phenomena which distinguish the 


species under study, — the phenomena becoming more 
special as we descend to smaller subdiyisions. In short, 
here as elsewhere, the philosophical task is to establish a 
true harmony between statical conditions and dynamical 
properties ; between ideas of life and ideas of organization, 
which should never be separated in our scientific studies 
but in order to their ulterior combination. Thus our aim, 
sometimes baffled but always hopeful, is to subordinate the 
taxonomic characters to each other, without the admission 
of anything arbitrary into any arrangement of importance. 
We thus meet with gaps in our schedules which we should 
avoid, or be insensible to, under an arbitrary system ; but 
we may subdue our natural impatience imder this imper- 
fection by accustoming our mind to regard rational classifi- 
cation as a true science, continually progressive, always 
perfectible, and therefore always more or less imperfect, 
like all positive science. 

In conducting the process of comparison. Procedure, in 
the characters must be admitted without use of the Na- 
restriction, in virtue of their positive tural Method* 
rationality, however inconvenient to manage and difficult 
to verify. This is the foundation of the proposed classifi- 
cation. The next step is to discard from the collection 
those whose verification would be too difficult, substituting 
for them some customary equivalents. Without this 
second process, which is as yet inadequately appreciated, 
the passage from the abstract to the concrete would be in- 
extricably embarrassed. The anatomist and physiologist 
may be satisfied with a definition of groups which will not 
suit the zoologist, and still less the naturalist. The kind 
of transformations required is easily specified. First, it is 
clear how important it is to discard the characters which 
are not permanent, and those which do not belong to the 
various natural modifications of the species under study. 
They can be admitted only as provisional attributes till 
true equivalents, permanent and common, have been dis- 
covered. But the very nature of the problem indicates 
that the aim of the chief substitution should be to replace 
all the interior characters by exterior : and it is this which 
constitutes the main difficulty, and, at the same time, the 
highest perfection of this final operation. When such a 


condition is fulfilled, on the basis of a rational primitive 
classification, the natural method is irrevocably constituted, 
in the plenitude of its various essential properties, as we 
now find it in the case of the animal kingdom. 

This transformation appears to be necessarily possible ; 
for, as a chief characteristic of animality is action upon 
the external world and corresponding reaction, the most 
important primitive phenomena of animal life must take 
place at the surface of separation between the organism 
and its environment; and considerations with regard to 
this envelope, its form, consistence, etc., naturally furnish 
the principal distinctions of the different animal organiza- 
tions. The interior organs, which have no direct and 
continuous relation to the medium, will always be of the 
highest importance among vegetative phenomena, the 
primitive and imiform basis of all life: but they are of 
secondary consequence in considering the degrees of ani- 
mality ; so that the interior part of the animal envelope, 
by which various materials for use are elaborated, is less 
important, in a taxonomic point of view, than the exterior 
part, which is the seat of the most characteristic phe- 
nomenon. Accordingly, the transformation of interior 
into exterior zoological characters is not merely an in- 
genious and indispensable artifice, but a simple return 
from the distraction of an overwhelming mass of facts to a 
direct philosophical course of investigation. When there- 
fore we see a recourse to inferior characteristics in the 
study of the animal series, we must recognize the truth 
that not only is the classification as yet unfinished, but 
that the operation is imperfectly conceived of; that the 
inquirer has not ascended, through sound biological 
analysis, to the origiaal source of analogies empirically 

After thus ascertaining the nature of the Natural 

Method, we must, before quitting the subject, glance at 

the mode of its applica,"bion in the co-ordination of the 

biological series, condensed into its principal masses. 

Division of The most general division of the organic 

*°i™al and world is into the animal and vegetable king- 

idSms ^^^® » ^ dLd^sion which remains as an instance 

'of thorouB-i^li discontinuity, in spite of aU 


efforts to represent it as an artificial arrangement. The 
deeper we go in the study of the inferior animals, the 
more plainly we perceive that locomotion, partial at least, 
and a corresponding degree of general sensibility, are the 
predominant and xmiform characters of the entire animal 
series. These two attributes are even more universal in 
the animal kingdom than the existence of a digestive canal, 
which is commonly regarded as its chief exclusive charac- 
teristic; a predominance which would not have been 
assigned to this attribute of the organic life but for its 
being an inevitable consequence, and therefore an unques- 
tionable test, of the double property of locomotion and 
sensibility ; to which we must, in consequence, assign the 
first place. Such a transformation, however, relates only 
to moveable animals ; so that for the rest, we should have 
still to seek some other yet more general indication of 
universal animality, if we must despair of finally dis- 
covering in it every direct anatomical condition of these 
two animal properties. As for the case of certain gyrating 
plants which appear to manifest some signs of these pro- 
perties, our imperfect analysis of their motions discloses 
no true character of animality, since we can discover no 
constant and immediate relation with either exterior im- 
pressions or the mode of ahmentation. 

Next to the division of the two organic Hierarchy of 
kingdoms comes the question of the rational the animal 
hierarchy of the animal kingdom, by itself, kingdom. 
In the place of the irrational considerations, so much relied 
on formerly, of abode, mode of nutrition, etc., we now rest 
upon the supreme consideration of the greater or less com- 
plexity of the organism, of its relative perfection, speciality, 
elevation; in short, of the degree of animal dignity, as 
M. Jussieu has well expressed it. The next preparatory 
step was in the anatomical field, to determine the suc- 
cessive degrees of animality proper to the different organs. 
The combination of the two great inquiries, — into the 
bases of the zoological hierarchy as residing in the organi- 
zation, and into the rank of the organs in their relation 
to life, — has furnished, since the beginning of this century, 
the first direct and general sketch of a definitive gradua- 
tion of the animal kingdom. Henceforth, it became ad- 


mitted that, as the nervous system constitutes the most 

animal of the anatomical elements, the classification must 

be directed by it ; other organs, and, yet more, inorganic 

conditions, being recurred to only on the failure of the 

chief in the most special subdivisions ; and the substitutes 

being employed according to their decreasing animality. 

Whatever share other zoologists may have contributed by 

their labours to the formation of this theory, it is to 

M. de Blainville that the credit of it especially belongs : 

and it is by his classification that we must proceed in 

estimating the application of the Natural Method to the 

direct construction of the true animal hierarchy. 

.,,.,,. The happiest innovation which distin- 

Attnbute of . i .vT. i • i j. • j.i. x 'x 

svmmetrv guishes this zoological system is that it 

attributes a high taxonomic importance to 
the general form of the animal envelope, which had before 
been neglected by naturalists, and which offers the most 
striking feature, in regard to description, in the symmetry 
which is the prevailing character of the animal organism. 
We must here reserve the case of the non- symmetrical 
animals ; and this shows that the idea is insufficiently 
analysed as yet. The principle is perhaps saved, or the 
difficulty distanced, by the fact that in these animals no 
trace can be discovered of a nervous system ; but there is 
a sufficient want of precision and clearness to mark this as 
a case reserved for further analysis. We shall not wonder 
at this imperfection if we remember how erroneous were 
the notions, no further back than two generations ago, 
about very superior orders of animals, — ^the whole of the 
radiated, a part of the mollusks, and even of the lower 
articulated animals. Among the orders thus restricted, 
there are two kinds of symmetry, the most perfect of which 
relates to a plane, and the other to a point, or rather to 
an axis: hence the further classification of animals into 
the duplicate and the radiated. It is impossible to admire 
too much the exactness with which an attribute, apparently 
so unimportant, corresponds with the aggregate of the 
highest biological comparisons, which are all found spon- 
taneously converging towards this simple and luminous 
distinction* Still it remains empirical in its preponder- 
ance ; and we yet -need a clear and rational explanation. 


both physiological and anatomical, of the extreme neces- 
sary inferiority of the radiated to the duplicate animals, 
which, by their nature, must be nearer to Man, the funda- 
mental unity in zoology. 

Taking the duplicate animals, or artiozoO' Diyision of 
ries, their order is again divided according duplicate 
to the consistence of the envelope, — ^whether animals, 
it is hard or soft, — and therefore more or less fit for loco- 
motion. This is, in fact, a protraction of the last considera- 
tion, as symmetry must be more marked in the case of 
a hard than of a soft covering. The two great attributes 
of animality, — ^locomotion and sensation, — establish pro- 
found and unquestionable differences, anatomical and 
physiological, between these two cases ; and we may easily 
connect them rationally with this primitive distinction, 
and perceive how they exhibit inarticulated animals as 
necessarily inferior to the articulated. 

The articulated animals must next be dis- Division of 
tinguished into two great classes, according articulated 
to the mode of articulation ; whether under animals, 
the envelope, by a bony skeleton, or a cartilaginous one, 
in the lowest degrees ; or whether the articulation is ex- 
ternal, by the consolidation of certain horny parts of the 
envelope, alternating with the soft parts. The inferiority 
of this latter organization, especially with regard to the 
high functions of the nervous system, must be seen at a 
glance. It is observable that the more imperfect develop- 
ment of this eminently animal system always coincides 
with a fundamental difference in the position of its central 
part, which is always above the digestive canal in verte- 
brated animals, and below it in those which have an 
external articulation. 

The rational hierarchy of the chief organisms in the 
upper part of the animal series is, then, composed of the 
three great classes ; — ^the vertebrated animals, those which 
are articulated externally, and the mollusks ; or, in scien- 
tific language, the osteozoaries, the entomozoaries, and the 

Glancing, finally, at the division of the Consideration 
first of these classes, I may remark that all of the enve- 
foriner descriptions and definitions may ^^P®- 



merge in the consideration of the envelope. It will be 
enough here to refer merely to the secondary view of the 
envelope, — that of the inorganic productions which sepa- 
rate it from its environment. M. de Blainville has shown 
ns how the descent from Man, through all the mammifera, 
the birds, reptiles, amphibious animals, and fishes, is 
faithfully represented by the consideration of a cutaneous 
surface furnished with hair, feathers, scales, or left bare. 
The same determining importance of the envelope is per- 
ceived in the next order of animals, in which the descent 
is measured by the increasing number of pairs of loco- 
motive appendages, from the hexapods to the myriapods, 
and even to the apodes, which are at the lower extremity. 

It is not consistent with the object of this Work to go 
further into a description of the animal hierarchy. My aim 
in giving the above details has been to fix the reader's 
attention on my preliminary recommendation to study the 
present co-ordination of the animal kingdom as an indis- 
pensable concrete explanation of the abstract conceptions 
which I had offered, in illustration of the natural method. 
We must pass by, therefore, all speculations and studies 
which belong to zoological philosophy, and merely observe 
that there is one portion of the fundamental system which 
remains to be constituted, and the general principles of 
which are as yet only vaguely perceived; — I mean the 
rational distribution of the species of each natural genus. 
This extreme and delicate application of the taxonomic 
theory would have been inopportune at an earlier stage of 
the development of the science : but the time has arrived 
for it to be undertaken now. 

Natural me- ^® cannot but see that the natural method 

thod applied does not admit of anything like the perfection 
to the Vege- in the vegetable kingdom that it exhibits in 
table kingdom. ^^^^ ^jj^ i^^^^ g^^g^g ^f ^j^^ animal. The 

families may be regarded as established, though in an 
empirical way; but their natural co-ordination remains 
almost entirely arbitrary, for want of a hierarchical prin- 
ciple by which to subordinate them rationally. The idea 
T)*ffi It f ^^ animality yields a succession of degrees, 
co-ortoation. d^P^J marked, so as to supply the basis of 

a true animal hierarchy : but there is nothing 


of the kind in our conception of vegetable existence. The 
intensity in tliis region is not always equal ; but the 
character of vegetable life is homogeneous ; — it is always 
assimilation and the contrary, continuous, and issuing in a 
necessary reproduction. The mere differences of intensity 
in such phenomena cannot constitute a true vegetable scale, 
analogous to the animal ; and the less because the gradation 
is owing at least as much to the preponderant influence of 
external circumstances as to the characteristic organization 
of each vegetable. Thus, we have here no sufficient rational 
basis for a hierarchical comparison. A second obstacle 
ought to be noticed, — serious enough, though of less im- 
portance than the first ; — that each vegetable is usually an 
agglomeration of distinct and independent beings. The 
case does not resemble that of the polypus formation. In 
the compound structure of the lowest animal orders a scien- 
tific definition is still possible. There is a vital basis common 
to all the animal structures which are otherwise indepen- 
dent of each other : but in the vegetable case, it is a mere 
agglomeration, such as we can often produce by grafting, 
and where the only common elements are inorganic parts, 
aiding a mechanical consolidation. There is no saying, in 
the present state of our knowledge, how far such a system 
may extend, without being limited by any organic condition, 
as it seems to depend on purely physical and chemical con- 
ditions, in combination with exterior circumstances. Faintly 
marked as the original organic diversity is by nature, it is 
evident how all rational subordination of the vegetable 
families in a common hierarchy is impeded by the coalescent 
tendency just noticed. 

The principal division which is the starting-point of M. 
Jussieu's classification is the only beginning of a true co- 
ordination in the vegetable kingdom. It consists in dis- 
tinguishing the vegetables by the presence or the absence 
of seminal leaves ; and when they are present, by their 
having several or only one. For the successive passage from 
those which have several to those that have none may be 
regarded as a continuous descent, like that of the biological 
series, though less marked. Such a view has been verified 
by the investigation of the organs of nutrition, according 
to the discovery of Desf ontaines, — as yet the only eminent 


example of a large and liappj application of comparative 
anatomy to the vegetable organism. By this concurrence 
of the two modes of comparison, — of the reproductive and 
nutritive arrangements, — ^this proposition has taken its 
rank among the most eminent theorems of natural philo- 
sophy. But this beginning of a hierarchy remains obviously 
insufficient, — the numerous families in each of the three 
divisions remaining under a purely arbitrary arrangement, 
which we can hardly hope to convert into a rational one. 
The interior distribution of species, and even of genera, 
within each family must be radically imperfect, as the 
requisite taxonomical principles cannot be applied to their 
arrangement till the difficulty of the co-ordination of the 
families, — a difficulty much less, but as yet insurmountable, 
— ^has been overcome. The Natural Method has, therefore, 
as yet yielded no other result, as to the vegetable kingdom, 
than the more or less empirical establishment of families 
and genera. We cannot be surprised that it has not yet 
excluded the use of artificial methods, and above all that 
of Linnaeus, — true as it is that, up to our time, the co- 
ordination of the vegetable kingdom was the field for the 
application of the Natural Method. It should ever be 
remembered, however, that the Natural Method is not 
merely a means of classification, but an important system 
of real knowledge as to the true relations of existing beings : 
so that even if it should be disused for the purposes of 
descriptive botany, it would not the less be of high value 
for the study of plants, the comparative results of which 
would be fixed and combined by it. In the present con- 
dition and prospects of the science, as to the establishment 
of a vegetable series, we must take the whole vegetable 
kingdom together as the last term of the great biological 
series, — as the last of the small number of essential modes 
of organization which (when the subdivisions are disre- 
garded) are markedly separated from each other in the 
classification that gives us the logical command of the 
study of living beings. Applied first to the vegetable king- 
dom, the natural method is now seen to be the means by 
which the animal realm, the type of all our knowledge of 
organic life, is to be perfected. To whatever orders of 
phenomena natural classification is to be applied, here its 


theory must first be studied ; and hence it is that biological 
science bears so important a part in the advancement of 
the whole of the positive method. It is much that a con- 
siderable progress has been made in ranging, in a due 
order of dignity, the immense series of living beings, from 
Man to the simplest plant : but, moreover, this theory of 
classification is an indispensable element of the whole 
positive method; an element which could not have been 
developed in any other way, nor even otherwise appreciated. 




Condition of \ A/-^ have to pass on to dynamical biology, 
Dynamical V V which is very far indeed from having 

Biology. attained the clearness and certainty of the 

statical department of the science. Important as are the 
physiological researches of recent times, they are only pre- 
liminary attempts, which must be soundly systematized 
before they can constitute a true dynamical biology. The 
minds which are devoted to mathematical, astronomical, 
and physical studies are not of a different make from those 
of physiologists; and the sobriety of the former classes, 
and the extravagance of the latter, must be ascribed to the 
definite constitution of the simpler sciences and the chaotic 
state of physiology. The melancholy condition of this last 
is doubtless owing in part to the vicious education of those 
who cultivate it, and who go straight to the study of the 
most complex phenomena without having prepared their 
understandings by the practice of the most simple and 
positive speculation : but I consider the prevalent license 
as due yet more to the indeterminate condition of the spirit 
of physiological science. In fact, the two disadvantages 
are one ; for if the true character of the science were estab- 
lished, the preparatory education would immediately be 

This infantine state of physiology prescribes the method 
of treating it here. I cannot proceed, as in statical biology, 
to an analytical estimate of established conceptions. I can 
only examine, in pure physiology, the notions of method ; 
that is, the mode of organization of the researches neces- 
sary to the ascertainment of the laws of vital phenomena. 
The progress of biological philosophy depends on the dis- 
tinct and rational institution of physiological questions, 
and not on attempts, which must be premature, to resolve 


them. Conceptions relating to method are always impor- 
tant in proportion to the complexity of the phenomena in 
view : therefore are they especially valuable in the case of 
vital phenomena ; and above all, while the science is in a 
nascent state. 

Though all vital phenomena are truly in- Vital pheno* 
terconnected, we must, as usual, decompose mena : their 
them, for purposes of speculative study, into division, 
those of greater and those of less generality. This dis- 
tinction answers to Bichat's division into the organic or 
v^etative life, which is the common basis of existence of 
all living bodies ; and animal life, proper to animals, but 
the chief characters of which are clearly marked only in 
the higher part of the zoological scale. But, since Gall's 
time, it has become necessary to add a third division, — the 
positive study of the intellectual and moral phenomena 
which are distinguished from the preceding by a yet more 
marked speciality, as the organisms which rank nearest to 
Man are the oijly ones which admit of their direct explora- 
tion. Though, imder a rigorous definition, this last class 
of functions may doubtless be implicitly iacluded in what 
we call the animal life, yet its restricted generality, the 
dawning pofitivity of its systematic study, and the peculiar 
nature of the higher difficulties that it offers, all indicate 
that we ought, at least for the present, to regard this new 
scientific theory as a last fundamental branch of physio- 
logy; in order that an unseasonable fusion should not 
disguise its high importance, and alter its true character. 
These, then, are the three divisions which remain for us to 
study, in our survey of biological science. 

Before proceeding to the analysis of organic ™, . ^ 

or vegetative life, I must say a few words on ganic^ediar 
the theory of organic media, without con- 
sidering which, there can be no true analysis of vital 

This new element may be said to have been practically 
introduced into the science by that controversy of Lamarck, 
already treated of, about the variation of animal species 
through the prolonged iufluence of external circumstances. 
It is our business here to exclude from the researches thus 
introduced, everythiug but what concerns physiology pro* 


perly so called, reduced to the abstract theory of the living 
organism. We have seen that the vital state supposes the 
necessary and permanent concurrence of a certain aggre- 
gate of external actions with the action of the organism 
itself : it is the exact analysis of these conditions of 
existence which is the object of the preliminary theory of 
organic media ; and I think it should be effected by con- 
sidering separately each of the fundamental influences 
under which the general phenomenon of life occurs. It 
cannot be necessary to point out the importance of the 
study of this half of the dualism which is the condition of 
life : but I may just remark on the evidence it affords of 
the subordination of the organic to the inorganic philo- 
sophy ; the influence of the medium on the organism being 
an impracticable study as long as the constitution of the 
medium is not exactly known. 

-, ^ . The exterior conditions of the life of the 

Exterior con- . r x i i. • i j 

ditions of Life, organism are of two classes, — physical and 

chemical ; or, in other words, mechanical and 
molecular. Both are indispensable ; but the first may be 
considered, from their more rigorous and sensible per- 
manence, the most general, — if not as to the different 
organisms, at least as to the continued duration of each 
of them. 

Mechanical First in generality we must rank the action 

conditions. of Weight. There is no denying that Man 
Weight. himself must obey, whether as weight or 

projectile, the same mechanical laws that govern every 
other equivalent mass : and by reason of the universality 
of these laws, weight participates largely in the production 
of vital phenomena, to which it is sometimes favourable, 
sometimes opposed, and scarcely ever indifferent. There 
is £rreat difficulty in the analysis of its effects, because its 
influence cannot be suspended or much modified for the 
purpose ; but we have ascertained something of them, both 
in the normal and the pathological states of the organism. 
In the lower, the vegetable portion of the scale, the physio- 
logical action of weight is less varied but more prepon- 
derant, the vital state being there extremely simple and 
least removed from the inorganic condition. The laws 
and limits of the growth of vegetables appear to depend 


essentially on this influence, as is proved by Mr. Knight's 
experiments on germination, as modified by a quicker or 
slower motion of rotation. Much higher organisms are 
subject to analogous conditions, without which we could 
not explain, for instance, why the largest animal masses 
live constantly in a fluid sufficiently dense to support 
almost their whole weight, and often to raise it sponta- 
neously. However, the superior part of the animal series 
is least fit for the ascertainment of the physiological 
influence of weight, from its concurrence with a great 
number of heterogeneous actions: but this again enables 
us to study it in a variety of vital operations : for there is 
scarcely a function, organic, animal, or even intellectual, 
in which we may not point out the indispensable inter- 
vention of weight, which specially manifests itself in all 
that relates to the stagnation or movement of fluids. It 
is therefore much to be regretted that a subject so extended 
and important has not been studied in a rational spirit and 

The next mechanical condition, — pressure, p 
liquid or gaseous, — is an indirect consequence 
of weight. Some few scientific results have here been 
obtained, from the facility with which pressure may be 
modified by artificial or natural circumstances. There are 
limits in the barometrical scale, outside of which no atmo- 
spherical animal, — Man or any other, — can exist. We 
cannot so directly verify such a law in the case of aquatic 
animals: but it would seem that in proportion to the 
density of the medium must be the narrowness of the 
vertical limits assignable to the abode of each species. 
Of the relation between these intervals and the degree of 
organization, it must be owned, however, that we have no 
scientific knowledge, our ideas being, in fact, wholly con- 
fused as to the inferior organisms, and especially iu the 
vegetable kingdom. Though, through many difficulties 
and complexities, the science is in a merely nascent state, 
some inquiries, such as those relating to the influence of 
atmospheric pressure on the venous circulation, and recent 
observations on its co-operation in the mechanism of 
standing and moving, etc., show that biologists are disposed 
to study this order of questions in a rational manner. 

II. a 


. , Among the physical conditions, and per- 

Mx>tionan ^^^^ ^^^^ among them, the physiological 

influence of motion and rest should be in- 
vestigated. Amidst the confusion and obscurity which 
exist on this subject, I think we may conclude that no 
organism, even the very simplest, could live in a state of 
complete immobility. The double movement of the earth, 
and especially its rotation, may probably be as necessary 
to the development of life as to the periodical distribution 
of heat and light. Too much care, however, cannot be 
taken to avoid confounding the motion produced by the 
organism itsel£ with that by which it is affected from 
without ; and the analysis had therefore better be applied 
to communicated than spontaneous motion. And as rotary 
motion tends, by the laws of mechanics, to disorganize any 
system, and therefore, eminently, to trouble its interior 
phenomena, it is this kind of motion which may be studied 
with the best result ; for which object we should do well 
to investigate, in a comparative way, the modifications 
undergone by the principal functions from the organism 
being made to rotate in such a gradual variety as is com- 
patible with a normal state. The attempt has as yet been 
made only with plants, and for another purpose ; while, in 
the case of the superior animals, including Man, we have 
only incomplete and disjointed observations, scarcely trans- 
cending mere popular notions. 

^, 1 • 1 After the mechanical influences, we reach 
action!^ "^^^ ^^^ which affects structure — the thermologi- 

cal action of the medium. It is the best 
known of all; for nothing is plainer than that life can 
exist only within certain limits of the thermometrical scale, 
and that there are limits affecting every family, and even 
every living race; and again, that the distribution of 
organisms over our globe takes place in zones sufficiently 
marked, as to differences of heat, to furnish thermo- 
metrical materials to the physicists, in a general way. 
But, amidst the multitude of facts in our possession, all 
the essential points of rational doctrine are still obscure 
and uncertain. We have not even any satisfactory series 
of observations about the thermometrical intervals corre- 
sponding to the different organic conditions ; — much less 


any law relating to sucli a harmony, wliich has never, in 
fact, been connected with any other essential biological 
character. This great gap exists as much with regard to 
the successive states of the same organism as to the scale 
of organisms. The necessary revision might be best 
applied first to the lowest states; as the egg and the 
lowest organisms appear able to sustain wider differences 
of temperature than those of a higher order : and several 
philosophical biologists have even believed that life may 
have been always possible on our planet, notwithstanding 
the different systems of temperature through which its sur- 
face has successively passed. On the whole, the sum of our 
analyses may seem to disclose, amidst many anomalies, a 
general law : that the vital state is so subordinated to a 
determinate thermometrical interval, as that this interval 
perpetually diminishes as life becomes more marked, — in 
the case both of the individual and of the series. If even 
this general law is not yet scientifically established, it may 
be supposed how ignorant we are of the modifications 
produced in the organism by variations of external tem- 
perature, within the limits compatible with life. There 
has even been much confusion between the results of 
abrupt and gradual changes of temperature, though ex- 
periment has shown that graduation vastly expands the 
limits within which the human organism can exist ; and 
again, between the influence of external, and the organic 
production of vital heat. This last great error shows that 
even the laying down the question remains to be done. 
The same thing may be said of the other exterior con- 
ditions, such as light and electricity, of which t • u* pi 
all that we know in this connection is that tricitv ekT 
they exert a permanent influence needful for 
the production and support of life. Besides the confusion 
and uncertainty of our observations, we have to contend 
with the inferiority of our knowledge of those branches of 
physics, and with the mischief of the baseless hypotheses 
which we before saw to infest the study of them. While 
physicists talk of fluids and ethers, avowing that they do 
so in an artificial sense, for purjK)ses of convenience, phy- 
siologists speak of them as the real principles of two orders 
of exterior actions indispensable to the vital state. Till 


reform becomes substantial and complete in the study of 
light and electricity, these will remain the exterior conditions 
of vitality of which our knowledge is the most imperfect. 
^ . Passing on from the physical to the chemical 

conditions conditions of the medium, we find our amount 

of knowledge scarcely more satisfactory. In 
strict generality, this study relates to the physiological in- 
Air and Water. ^"^^^® P^ air and water, the mingling of 

which, in various degrees, constitutes the 
common medium necessary to vitality. As M. de Blain- 
ville remarked, they must not be considered separately, as 
in a physical or chemical inquiry, but in that mixture 
which varies only in the proportions of its elements. This 
might be anticipated from our knowledge of the chemical 
constitution of living bodies, the essential elements of 
which are found only in the combination of air and water : 
but we have physiological evidence also, which shows that 
air deprived of moisture, and water not aerated, are fatal 
to vital existence. In this view there is no differerce be- 
tween atmospheric and aquatic beings, animal and vege- 
table, but the unequal proportion of the two fluids ; the 
air, in the one case, serving as a vehicle for vaporized 
water ; and the water, in the other case, conveying lique- 
fied air. In both cases, water furnishes the indispensable 
basis of all the organic liquids : and the air the essential 
elements of nutrition. We know that the higher mammi- 
fera, including Man, perish when the air reaches a certain 
degree of dryness, as fishes do in water which has been 
sufficiently deprived of air by distillation. Between these 
extreme terms there exists a multitude of intermediaries in 
which moister conditions of air and more aerated states of 
water correspond with determinate organisms ; and the ob- 
servation of Man in the different hygrometrical states of 
atmospheres shows how, in the individual case, physio- 
logical phenomena are modified within the limits compa- 
tible with the vital state. If we may say that the question 
has been laid down in this inquiry, it is only in a vague 
and obscure way. Besides our ignorance of the varying 
proportions, we have none but the most confused notions 
about the way in which each fluid participates in the sup- 
port of life. Oxygen is the only element of the air about 


which we have made any intelligent inquiry, while physio- 
logists entertain the most contradictory notions about azote : 
and the uncertainty and obscurity are still greater with re- 
gard to water. In this state of infancy, it can be no wonder 
that the science offers as yet no law as to the influence of 
the medium on the organism — even in regard to the ques- 
tion whether a certain condition of existence becomes more 
or less inevitable as the organism rises in the scale. 

The study of the influence of specifics does 
not enter here, on account, of course, of the 8p^ific« 

absence of generality ; but it should be just 
pointed out that, reduced as is the number of substances 
called specifics, there are still enough, — as aliments, medi- 
cines, and poisons, — to afford a hint of what might be 
learned by an exploration of them, in regard to the har- 
mony between the organic world and the inorganic. The 
very quality of their operation, that it is special and dis- 
continuous, and therefore not indispensable, indicates the 
experimental method in this case, as being certain, well 
circumscribed, and very various. This study may then be 
regarded as a needful appendix, completing the preliminary 
biological doctrine which I have called that of organic 
media, and offering resources which are proper to it, and 
cannot be otherwise obtained. Unhappily, this complement 
is in even a more backward state than the more essential 
portions, notwithstanding the multitude of observations, 
unconnected and unfinished, already assembled in this path 
of research. 

If such is the state of preliminary know- 
ledge, it is clear how little has yet been physiology, 
learned of the laws of life themselves. The 
inquiry has gone through- revolutions, as other questions 
have, before reaching the threshold of positivity, in our 
day. From the impulse given by Descartes, the illustrious 
school of Boerhaave arose in physiology, which exaggerated 
the subordination of biology to the simpler parts of natural 
philosophy so far as to assign to the study of life the place 
of appendix to the general system of inorganic physics. 
From the consequent reaction against this absurdity arose 
the theory of Stahl, which may be considered the most 
scientific formula of the metaphysical state of physiology* 


The struggle has since lain between these two schools, — the 
strength of the metaphysical one residing in its recognition 
of physiology as a distinct science, and that of the physico- 
chemical, in its principle of the dependence of the organic 
on the inorganic laws, as daily disclosed more fully by the 
progress of science. The effect of this improved knowledge 
has been to modify the conceptions of metaphysical physio- 
logy : the formula of Barthez, for instance, representing a 
further depaiture from the theological state than that of 
Stahl ; as Stahl's already did than that of Van Helmont, 
though the same metaphysical entity might be in view when 
Van iSelmont called it the archeus, and Stahl the soul, and 
Barthez the vital 'principle. Stahl instituted a reaction 
against the physico-chemical exaggerations of Boerhaave ; 
but Barthez established, in his preliminary discourse, the 
characteristics of sound philosophizing, and exposed the 
necessary futility of all inquisition into causes and modes 
of production of phenomena, reducing all real science to 
the discovery of their laws. For want of the requisite 
practice in the positive method, the scheme of Barthez 
proved abortive ; and, after having proposed his concep- 
tion of a vital principle as a mere term to denote the un- 
known cause of vital phenomena, he was drawn away by 
the prevalent spirit of his time to regard the assumed 
principle as a real and complex existence, though pro- 
foundly unintelligible. Ineffectual as his enterprise proved, 
its design with regard to the advancement of positive 
science cannot be mistaken. The progressive spirit is still 
more marked in the physiological theory of Bichat, though 
we find entities there too. These entities however show a 
great advance, as a determinate and visible seat is assigned 
to them. The vital forces of Bichat however still inter- 
vene in phenomena, like the old specific entities introduced 
into physics and chemistry, in their metaphysical period, 
under the name of faculties or occult virtues, which Des- 
cartes so vigorously hunted down, and Moliere so happily 
ridi(!uled. Such is the character of the supposed organic sen- 
sibility , by which, though a mere term, Bichat endeavoured 
to explain physiological phenomena, which he thus merely 
reproduced under another name : as when, for instance, he 
thought he had accounted for the successive flow of different 


liquids in one canal by saying that the organic sensibility 
of the canal was successively in harmony with each fluid, 
and in antipathy to the rest. But for his untimely death 
however, there can be no doubt that he would have issued 
into an entire positivity. His treatise on General Anatomy, 
though appearing a very few years after his treatise on Life 
and Death, is a great advance upon it ; and even in the con- 
struction of his metaphysical theory of vital forces he cer- 
tainly first introduced, under the title properties of tissue, a 
conception of the highest value, destined to absorb all onto- 
logical conceptions, and to prepare for the entire positivity 
of the elementary notions of physiology. The thing re- 
quired is to substitute properties for forces ; and Bichat's 
treatment of tissue fulfilled this condition with regard to a 
very extensive class of effects : and thus his theory, while 
it amended the metaphysical doctrine of Stahl and Barthez, 
opened the way to its entire reformation by presenting at 
once the germ and the example of purely positive concep- 
tions. This is now the state of physiological philosophy in 
the minds of the majority of students ; and the conflict 
between the schools of Stahl and Boerhaave, — between the 
metaphysical and the physico-chemical tendency, — remains 
at the point to which it was brought up by the impulse 
communicated by Bichat. It would be hopeless to look to 
the oscillations of this antagonism for an advance in science. 
If the one doctrine prevailed, science would be in a state of 
retrogression ; if the other, in a state of dissolution ; as in 
our social condition, in the conflict of the two political ten- 
dencies, the retrograde and the revolutionary. The pro- 
gress of physiology depends on the growth of positive 
elementary conceptions, such as will remand to the domain 
of history the controversy from which nothing more is to 
be expected. Abundant promise of such an issue now 
appears : the two schools have annulled each other ; and 
the natural development of the science has furnished 
means for its complete institution to be begun. This I 
look upon as the proper task of the existing generation of 
scientific men, who need only a better training to make 
them adequate to it. If, from its complexity, physiology 
has been later than other sciences in its rational formation, 
it may reach its maturity more rapidly from the ground 


having been cleared by the pursuit of the anterior sciences. 
Many delays were occasioned in their case by transitory 
phases which were not understood in the earlier days of 
positivity, and which need never again arrest experienced 
investigation. It may be hoped that physiologists will 
spare their science the useless and humbling delay in the 
region of metaphysical hypothesis which long embarrassed 
the progress of physics. 

Philosophical The true philosophical character of phy- 
character of siology consists, as we have seen, in establish- 
Physiology. i^g an exact and constant harmony between 
the statical and the dynamical points of view, — between the 
ideas of organization and of life, — between the notion of 
the agent and that of the act ; and hence arises the obliga- 
tion to reduce all abstract conceptions of physiological 
properties to the consideration of elementary and general 
phenomena, each of which conveys the idea of a determi- 
nate seat. In other words, the reduction of functions to 
corresponding properties must be regarded as the simple 
consequence of decompounding the general life into the 
different functions, — discarding all notions about causes, 
and inquiring only into laws. Bichat*s conception of the 
properties of tissue contains the first germ of this renovated 
view ; but it only indicates the nature of the philosophical 
operation, and contains no solution of the problem. Not 
only is there a secondary confusion between the properties 
of tissue and simple physical properties, but the principle 
of the conception is vitiated by the irrational distinction 
between the properties of tissue and vital properties ; for 
no property can be admitted in physiology without its 
being at once vital and belonging to tissue. In endeavour- 
ing to harmonize the different degrees of physiological and 
of anatomical analysis, we may lay down the philosophical 
principle that the idea of property which indicates the last 
term of the one must correspond with tissue, which is the 
extreme term of the other ; whilst the idea of function, on 
the other hand, corresponds to that of organ : so that the 
successive ideas of function and of property present a 
gradation of thoughts similar to that which exists between 
the ideas of organ and of tissue, except that the one re- 
lates to the act and the other to the agent. This relation 


appears to me to constitute an incontestable and important 
rule in biological philosophy ; and on it we may establish 
the first great division among physiological -n* • • < 
properties. We have seen how in anatomy the study, 
there is a division between the fundamental, 
generating tissue, the cellular, and the secondary tissues 
which result from the combination of certain substances 
with this original web ; and in the same way must physio- 
logical properties be divided into two groups, — the one 
comprising the general properties which belong to all the 
tissues, and which constitute the proper life of the cellular 
tissue ; and the other, the special properties which charac- 
terize its most marked modifications, — that is, the muscular 
and nervous tissues. This division, indicated by anatomy, 
strikingly agrees with the great physiological distinction 
between the organic or vegetative and the animal life ; as 
the first order of properties must afford the basis of that 
general life, common to all organized beings, to which 
vegetable existence is reduced ; while the second relates 
exclusively to the special life of animated beings. Such 
a correspondence at once makes the principle more unques- 
tionable, and facilitates the application of the rule. 

If we look at what has been done, towards the construc- 
tion of this fundamental theory, we shall find that it is 
fairly accomplished with regard to the secondary, or animal 
tissues, — all the general phenomena of animal life being 
unanimously connected with irritability and sensibility, — 
these being considered as attributes each of a definite 
tissue : and thus, the most marked case is the best under- 
stood. But the other division, — the properties which are 
wholly general, belonging to the universal life, are far more 
important, as underlying the others ; and an extreme con- 
fusion and divergence exist with regard to them. No clear 
and satisfactory conception of the second class can be 
formed while the first is left in obscurity ; and thus, the 
science remains in a purely provisional state, — its develop- 
ment having taken place in an order inverse to that which 
its nature requires. 

The functions which belong to the vegeta- Two functions 
tive life are two, — the antagonism of which of the or- 
corresponds to the definition of life itself: ganiclife. 


first, the interior absorption of nutritive materials from the 
surrounding medium ; whence results, after their assimila- 
tion, final nutrition ; and secondly, the exhalation of mole- 
cules, which then become foreign bodies, to be parted with, 
or disassimilated, as nutrition proceeds. It appears to be 
an error to make digestion and circulation characteristics of 
animality ; as we certainly find them here in the funda- 
mental sense of both. Digestion is properly a preparation 
of aliment for assimilation ; and this takes place in a simple 
and almost unvaried manner in vegetable organisms : and 
circulation, though nothing like what it is in animals, 
where there is a central organ to effect it, is not less essen- 
tial in vegetative life, — the lowest organism showing the 
continual motion of a fluid holding in suspension or dis- 
solved, matters absorbed or thrown out ; and this perpetual 
oscillation, which does not require a system of vessels to 
itself, but may take place through the cellular tissue, is 
equally indispensable to animal and vegetable existence. 
These, then, are the two great vegetative processes, per- 
formed by properties which are provisionally supposed 
(after the analysis of M. de Blainville, which is open 
to some objection) to be three, — hygrometricity, capillarity, 
and retractility. This analysis shows clearly that the 
actions which constitute vegetable life are simply physico- 
chemical phenomena; physical as to the motion of the 
molecules inwards and outwards; and chemical in what 
relates to the successive modifications of these different 
substances. Under the first aspect, they depend on the 
properties, hygronietrical, capillary, and retractile, of the 
cellular tissue : under the second, and much more obscure 
at present, they relate to the molecular action which 
its composition admits. This is the spirit in which the 
analysis of organic phenomena should be instituted; 
whereas that of animal phenomena should be regarded 
from a wholly different point of view, as we shall see here- 

The study of this vegetative life is not even yet ration- 
ally organized. We have seen that, in the anatomical view, 
the vegetable kingdom is regarded as the last term of 
an unique series, — the various degrees of which differ, for 
the most part, more widely from each other than any one 


of them from this extreme term. The same conception 
should direct physiological speculations on the organic life, 
analyzed uniformly for all living beings : but this has not 
hitherto been even attempted. Till it is accomplished, no 
essential point of physiological doctrine can be established, 
however able may be the investigations carried on, and 
however valuable the materials supplied. It may be alleged 
that the phenomena relating to general life may be studied 
in the broadest simplicity in vegetable organisms : but it is 
no more possible in physiology than in anatomy to inter- 
pret the extreme cases in the scale by each other without 
having passed through the intermediate degrees : and the 
dynamical case is the more difficult of the two : so that the 
isolated study of the organic life in vegetables cannot illus- 
trate that of the higher order of animals. And one natural 
consequence of this irrational isolation of the vegetable 
case is that chemists and physicists have engrossed re- 
searches which properly belong to biologists alone. The 
comparative method, which we have seen to be the charac- 
teristic resource of biological philosophy, has not as yet been 
duly introduced into the general study of organic life, 
though it is at once more indispensable, and more com- 
pletely applicable than in the case of animal life. If it 
were consistent with the character of this Work, we could 
point out gaps at almost every step, and about the simplest 
phenomena, which must shock any inquiring mind : — the 
darkness, doubts, and differences about digestion; and 
again about gaseous digestion, or respiration ; — in regard to 
which the most contradictory opinions are held: — diver- 
gences about the simplest preliminary phenomena of vege- 
tative life, which show how much has to be done before we 
can undertake any direct investigation into the phenomena 
of assimilation and the converse process. 

We shall find ourselves even further from 
satisfaction if we turn from the consideration oj.!fg[^j^ action 
of the functions of organic life to those more 
compound phenomena which are usually confounded with 
them, but which M. de Blainville has taught us to distin- 
guish as results from the action of, not one organ or set of 
organs, as in the case of function, but of the simultaneous 
action of all the principal organs. Of these results, the 


state of most immediate and necessary is tlie con- 

composition tinuous state of composition and decomposi- 
and decom- tion which characterizes the vegetative life. 
l)08ition. Ignorant as we are of assimilation and secre- 

tion, the very questions cannot have been as yet suitably 
laid down. No one has thought, for instance, of insti- 
tuting an exact chemical comparison between the total 
composition of each organism and the corresponding system 
of alimentation : nor, conversely, between the exhaled pro- 
ducts and the whole of the agents which had supplied or 
modified them ; so that we can give no precise scientific 
account of the general phenomenon of the composition and 
decomposition of every organism as a necessary conse- 
quence of the concurrence of the different functions. We 
have at present only incomplete and disjointed materials, 
which have never been referred to any general fact, 
y., 1 1^ * It is acknowledged now that all organisms 

have, more or less, the character which used 
to be ascribed to only the highest, of sustaining a deter- 
minate temperature, notwithstanding variations of heat in 
their environment ; and this is a second result of the whole 
of the vegetative functions, which almost always co-exists 
with the first. But this important study is not only in a 
backward state, but ill-conceived. Besides the error before 
noticed, of confounding vital heat with the temperature of 
the medium, the fundamental character of the phenomenon 
appears to me to have been misconceived. Its modifica- 
tion by the animal functions can never be understood till 
it has been studied in its primitive universal manifestation 
in all living bodies, each of which represents a chemical 
centre, able to maintain its temperature against external 
influences, within certain limits, as a necessary conse- 
quence of the phenomena of composition and decomposi- 
tion. This is doubtless the point of view from which the 
positive study of vital heat must be regarded ; and to con- 
sider it under the modifications of animal life, is to place 
the accessory before the principal, and to propose views 
which are merely provisional, if not erroneous. In the 
most recent works upon this leading subject, the organic 
foundations are, it is true, more carefully considered : but 
the investigation cannot be said to be duly instituted as 


long as the vegetable organism is not regularly introduced 
into it. 

These remarks are even more applicable to in ♦ • i 

the electrical study of livini? bodies. Here efo^l "^* 

we find again, and with ^g^yation, the /'**"• 
confusion between organic action and external influence, 
as well as the aberrations remarked on in physics about 
ethers and electric fluids. Here, too, we meet with the 
error observed upon in the last case, about the physiolo- 
gical origin of the phenomenon. And here, again, we 
are bound to conclude that a permanent electrization is 
ascribable to acts of composition and decomposition, not- 
withstanding the electrical variations of the medium. And 
again we find that the animal functions can only modify, 
by accelerating or augmenting, more or less, the funda- 
mental phenomenon. But the electrical analysis of the 
organism is yet further than the thermological from being 
conceived of and pursued in a rational view. 

Next follow the general phenomena which result in a 
less direct and necessary manner from the whole of the 
vegetative functions : — the production and development of 
living bodies. 

Notwithstanding the original investiga- Production 
tions of Harvey and of Haller, with regard and develop- 
to the superior animals, this investigation ment of living 
may be considered, owing to its complexity, ladies, 
to be more in the rear of a ix)sitive institution than any of 
the preceding. The tendency to search for causes and 
modes of production of phenomena, instead of for their 
laws, has acted with fatal effect here ; and, amidst every 
kind of deficiency, the main cause of the obscurity of the 
case is, undoubtedly, that students have occupied them- 
selves in looking for what cannot be found. However, the 
labours of anatomists and zoologists have evidently pre- 
pared the way for a more rational study. It is even 
worthy of remark that some students who were most bent 
on the search into causes have been led on by the spread 
of the positive spirit, to spend their efforts on inquiries 
into ovology and embryology, which are assuming a more 
scientific character every day. Still, the preliminary requi- 
site for the formation of doctrine, — ^a fundamental analysis, 


— remains unfulfilled ; and the ascertainment of the laws 
of production and development is not, therefore, to be 
attempted at present. In the lowest departments of the 
scale, the multiplication of organisms takes place by a 
simple prolongation of any part of the parent mass, which 
is almost homogeneous; and in this extreme case, we 
understand the phenomenon to be analogous to every other 
kind of reproduction of the primitive cellular tissue. In 
the higher degrees of the scale, we are in the dark from 
the moment we depart from immediate observation ; and 
when the simplest previsions are so radically uncertain and 
even erroneous as in this case, the science may be pro- 
nounced to be in a state of infancy, notwithstanding the 
imposing appearance of the mass of works accumulated 
for its illustration. 

The comparative method has been applied in a yet more 
incomplete way to the phenomena of organic development. 
The question has never yet been laid down under a form 
common to all organisms, including the vegetable. The 
grave error is still committed of studying the development 
in the animal cases alone; so that the most eminently 
animal of the systems, the nervous, is represented as the 
first to appear in the embryo of the higher orders, — a sup- 
position adverse to the institution of any really general 
conception of the theory of development, and in direct 
opposition to one of the most constant laws of biological 
philosophy, — the perpetual accordance between the chief 
phases of the individual evolution and the most marked 
successive degrees of the organic hierarchy ; for in this 
last view the nervous tissue is seen to be the latest and 
most special transformation of the primitive tissue. The 
preliminary analysis of organic development is, then, still 
far from being conceived of in a rational spirit, governed 
by the high philosophical intention of reconciling, as much 
as possible, the various essential aspects of the science of 
living bodies. 

-.^ ,. , . To be complete, this analysis should evi- 

Snism ^®^% ^ followed by the inverse, and yet 

correlative study of the decline of the 
organism, from its maturity to its death. The general 
theory of death is certainly in a very backward state, since 


the ablest physiological researches on this subject have 
usually related to violent or accidental death ; considered, 
too, in the highest organisms exclusively, and affecting 
functions and systems of organs of an essentially animal 
nature. As for the deterioration of the organic life, we 
have yet attained to only one initiatory philosophical 
glimpse, which exhibits it as a necessary consequence of 
life itself, by the growing predominance of the movement 
of exhalation over that of absorption, whence results 
gradually an exaggerated consolidation of the organism 
which was originally almost fluid, a process which, in the 
absence of more rapid influences, tends to produce a state 
of desiccation incompatible with all vital phenomena. 
Valuable, however, as is such a glimpse, it serves only to 
characterize the true nature of the question, by indicating 
the general direction of the researches which it requires. 
The important considerations relative to animal life could 
not be rationally introduced into such a subject till this 
preliminary doctrine shall have been established ; as in 
regard to all the other points of view before examined. 

Summary as this review has been, we have seen enough 
to be authorized to conclude that the backward state of 
physiological science is owing mainly to the vicious train- 
ing of physiologists, and the irrational institution of their 
habitual labours. The circulation of the blood, the first 
general fact which gave birth to positive physiology ; and 
the laws of the fall of bodies, the first acquisition of sound 
physics, are discoveries almost absolutely contempora- 
neous ; and yet, what an immense inequality there is now 
in the progress of two sciences setting out from so similar 
a disclosure! Such a difference cannot be attributed 
wholly to the greater complexity of physiological phe- 
nomena, and must have depended much also on the scien- 
tific spirit which directed their general study, to the level 
of which the greater number of those who cultivate it have 
been unable to rise. The phenomena of the vegetative life 
obviously require, both for their analysis and their expla- 
nation, an intimate combination of the leading notions of 
inorganic philosophy with physiological considerations, 
obtained through a thorough familiarity with the prelimi- 
nary laws relating to the structure and classification of 


living bodies. Now, eacli of these inseparable conditions 
is, in our day, the separate property of a particular order 
of positive investigators. Hence we have, on the one hand, 
the supposed organic chemistry, a bastard study, which is 
only a rough first sketch of vegetable physiology, under- 
taken by inquirers who know nothing of the true subject 
of their labours : and, on the other hand, vague, inco- 
herent, and partly metaphysical doctrines, of which phy- 
siology has been chiefly constituted by minds almost 
entirely destitute of the most indispensable preliminary 
ideas. The barren anarchy which has resulted from so 
vicious an organization of scientific labour would be enough 
of itself to testify to the direct utility of the general, and 
yet positive point of view which characterizes the fore- 
going survey. 




IT was only by a late and long-prepared effort that the 
human mind could attain that state of abstraction and 
physiological generality necessary for the comprehension of 
all vital beings, — from Man to the vegetable, — as one series. 
It is only in our own day that a point of view so new and 
so difficult has been established ; and as yet, among only 
the most advanced minds, even as regards the simplest 
general aspects of biology, — in the statical study of the 
organism. It is not at all surprising that physiological 
comparison should have been first applied to the animal 
functions, because they first suggest its importance and 
possibility, however clearly it may afterwards appear that 
the organic life at once requires and admits a larger and 
more indispensable application of the comparative method. 
Looking more closely, however, into this evident existing 
superiority of animal over organic physiology, we must 
bear in mind the distinction between the two elementary 
aspects of every positive study, — the analysis of phenomena 
and their explanation. It is only with regard to the first 
that the animal life has been in reality better explored 
than the organic. It is not possible that the explanation 
of the most special and complex phenomena should be more 
advanced than that of the most simple and general, which 
serve as a basis to the others. Such a state of the science 
would be in opposition to all the established laws of the 
human mind. 

However imperfect the theory of organic phenomena 
still is, it is unquestionably conceived in a more scientific 
spirit than we find in any explanations of animal physiology. 
We have seen that the vegetative phenomena approach 
most nearly to the inorganic ; and that the school of Boer- 
haave sinned only in exaggeration, proceeding from in- 


Transition sufficient knowledge ; and it must be by this 
from the in- time evident that this is the link between the 
organic to the inorganic and the biological philosophy, by 
organic. which we are enabled to regard the whole of 

natural philosophy as forming a homogeneous and con- 
tinuous body of doctrine. By a natural consequence, a 
wholly different view must be taken of the rational theories 
of animal life : that is, of the phenomena of irritability and 
sensibility, which offer no basis of analogy with inorganic 
phenomena. With regard to sensibility, no one will ques- 
tion this : and, as to irritability, — though contraction may 
be seen as a movement occasioned by heat, and, yet more, 
by electricity, these phenomena must be carefully separated 
from the contractile effect of the irritable fibre which is a 
product of the nervous action ; and especially when it is 
voluntary. Irritability is as radically foreign to the inor- 
ganic world as sensibility ; with which, too, it is inseparably 
Primitive connected. This double property is, then, 

nervous pro- strictly primitive in the secondary tissues, 
perties. g^^^ therefore no more a subject of explana- 

tion than weight, heat, or any other fundamental physical 
property. Whenever we have a true theory of animal life, 
it will be by comparing all the general phenomena which 
are connected with this double property, according to their 
preparatory analysis, in order to discover their laws ; that 
is, as in all other cases, their constant relations, both of 
succession and similitude. This will be done in order to 
the usual end of obtaining a rational prevision ; the subject 
here being the mode of action of a given animal organism, 
placed in determinate circumstances ; or, reciprocally, the 
animal arrangement that may be induced by any given act 
of animality. All attempts to explore the nature of sensi- 
bility and irritability are mere hindrances in tlie way of 
this final aim, by drawing off our attention from the laws 
of animality in a vain search after what can never be 

Relation of '^^^ ^^^® relation of the animal to the 

the animal to organic life must throughout be carefully 
the organic kept in mind. This relation is double. The 
®' organic life first serves as the basis of the 

animal ; and then as its general end and object. We have 


dwelt enough on the first, if even any one would think of 
contesting that, in order to move and feel, the animal must 
first live ; and that the fundamental vegetative life could 
not cease without extinguishing the other. As for the 
second relation, it is evident that the phenomena of irrita- 
bility and sensibility are directed by the general needs of 
the organic life, which they serve by procuring better 
materials, and by guarding against unfavourable influences. 
Even the intellectual and moral functions have usually no 
other primitive office. Without such a destination, these 
properties would either destroy the organism or themselves 
perish. It is only in the human species, and even there 
only under a high degree of civilization, that any kind of 
inversion of this order can be conceived of. In that case, 
the vegetative life is essentially subordinated to the animal, 
the development of which it is alone destined to aid ; and 
this, it seems to me, is the noblest scientific notion that we 
can form of humanity, distinct from animality : — a trans- 
formation which can be safely considered as possible only 
by transferring to the whole species, or at least to society, 
the primitive end which, in the case of animals, is limited 
to the individual, or, at the utmost, to the family, as we 
shall see hereafter. It is only among a small number of 
men, and it is very far indeed from being a just matter of 
expectation from the whole species, that the intellect can 
acquire such a preponderance in the whole of the organism 
as to become the end and object of human existence. An 
exception so special, and so easy to explain in the case of 
Man, cannot alter the universality of a consideration verified 
by the whole animal kingdom, wherein the animal life is 
seen to be always destined to perfect the organic. It is only 
by a scientific abstraction, necessary for purposes of progress, 
that we can provisionally conceive of the first as isolated 
from the second, which is, strictly speaking, inseparable 
from it under the double aspect just exhibited. Thus, as the 
positive theory of animality must continually rest on that of 
general vitality, it is indissolubly combined with the whole of 

inorganic philosophy, which furnishes the basis ^ . 

£ ' ^ 'A '^ T J To inorganic 

of organic physiology. In a secondary sense, philosomiy. 

the same dependence exists. We admitted, 

while reviewing mathematical philosophy, that the laws of 


e^uilibrmm and motion operate among all orders of pheno- 
mena, being absolutely universal. Among physiological 
phenomena we find them accordingly ; and, when contrac- 
tion is produced by the irritability of the muscular fibre, 
all the phenomena of animal mechanics which result, 
whether for rest or locomotion, are dependent on the 
general laws of mechanics. In an inverse way the same 
thing takes place with regard to the functions of sensibility, 
in which the inorganic philosophy must intervene in con- 
nection with the primitive impression on the sentient 
extremities, carefully distinguished from its transmission 
by the nervous filament, and its perception by the cerebral 
organ. Tliis impression acts through an intermediate 
physical apparatus, optical,, acoustic, or other, the study of 
which according to appropriate physical laws, constitutes a 
chief element of the positive analysis of the phenomenon. 
Not only must we use the knowledge already established, 
but we want, for our analysis, further progress in it, and 
even the creation of new doctrines, as the theory of flavours, 
and yet more of odours, in regard to the mode of propaga- 
tion of which there are doubtless several general laws, of a 
purely inorganic character, remaining to be established. 
In investigating these connections between biology and 
inorganic science, we find again what we saw before, that 
chemistry is spontaneously related to vegetable physiology, 
and physics especially to animal physiology; though neither 
could be altogether dispensed with in either department, 
where they are required, more or less, in combination. 

Our ideas of the double properties of irrita- 
tissue^ ^^ ^ bility and sensibility cannot be truly scientific 

till each is irreversibly assigned to a> corre- 
iiponding tissue. Bichat conceived of all tissues as neces- 
jBarily sensitive and irritable, but in different degrees ; — an 
error which was natural or inevitable at a time when so 
little was known of tissue in the way of anatomical analysis, 
but one which, if maintained now, would hand over the 
whole science to the physico-chemical school, and efface all 
real distinction between the inorganic and organic depart- 
ments of natural philosophy. Eational biology requires 
that the two properties should be inherent in determinate 
tissues, — themselves modifications, profound and distinctly 


marked, of the primitive cellular tissue, — that our anato- 
mical data may be in harmony with the physiological ; in 
other words, that the elementary ideas of tissue and of pro-* 
perty should be in perfect correspondence. The scientific 
character of physiology in this direction is essentially defect- 
tive among biologists in general. But the new exploration^ 
contmually made show us how it was that « 'i 'rtv ' 
Bichat was misled. He considered it proved ■ 

that sensibiUty existed where there were no nerves: but 
further investigation proves that the systems of sensibility 
were erroneously attributed to an organ deprived of nerves, 
instead of being referred to the simultaneous injury of 
neighbouring nerves; or that the nervous tissue existed, 
though it was difficult to find. If cases apparently contra^ 
dietory still remain, it would be obviously absurd to reject 
on their account a conception required by the principles of 
rational physiology, and founded on unquestionable caseft, 
by far more numerous and decisive than those which still 
seem to be exceptional. This consideration should be 
applied to different organisms, as well as to the different 
tissues of the human organism. The animals supposed to 
be without nerves, on which the metaphysical school has 
insisted so much, disappear as comparative anatomy enables 
us to generalize more and more the idea of nervous tissue, 
and to detect it in the inferior organisms. It is thus, for 
instance, that it has been recently found in several radiated 
animals. The time has come for its being established as a 
philosophical axiom that nerves are necessary for any 
degree of sensibility, the apparent exceptions being left as 
so many anomalies to be resolved by the future progress of 
anatomical analysis. 

The same process must be instituted with j ., , .,., 
the common notions of instability, which are ^* 

still ruled by Bichat's theory. He supposed, for instance, 
that the contractions of the heart were determined, inde- 
pendently of all nervous action, by the immediate stimulus 
of the flow of the blood towards it ; whereas, it is now 
established that a provision of nerves is as indispensable to 
the irritability of this muscle as of any other ; and gener- 
ally, that the great distinction laid down by Bichat, be- 
tween organic and animal contractility, must be abandoned. 


All irritability is then necessarily animal ; that is, it re- 
quires a corresponding nervous provision, whatever may 
be the immediate centre from which the nervous action 
proceeds. Much illustration of this subject is needed for 
its scientific use, though not for the logical sanction of a 
principle already placed beyond dispute. We need this 
further enlightenment, not only in regard to the use of the 
modern distinction made by many physiologists between 
the sensory and the motory nerves, though such a question 
has considerable philosophical importance ; but much more 
in regard to another consideration, more direct and more 
eminent, in regard to which we are in a state of most in- 
convenient uncertainty and obscurity : I mean the scientific 
distinction which must be maintained, sooner or later, be- 
tween the voluntary and involuntary motions. The doc- 
trine of Bichat had the advantage of representing this 
difference, which we see, in fact, to have furnished him 
with his chief arguments ; whereas, now that we insist on 
irritability being of one kind only, and dependent on a 
nervous provision, we find ourselves involved in a very 
delicate fundamental difficultv, the solution of which is 
however indispensable, to enable us to understand how all 
motions must not be indistinctly voluntary. For this solu- 
tion we must obtain — what we certainly have not as yet — 
an exact co-ordination of anatomical differences with incon- 
testable physiological differences. There can be no question 
that such a phenomenon as the voluntary movements of 
the locomotive muscles while that of the cardiac muscle 
remains absolutely involuntary, must admit of analysis, 
however difficult it may be. Here then we find a chasm 
among the very principles of the science, by which the 
positive theory of irritability is much perplexed, certain as 
is its principle. In almost all cases the ablest anatomist is 
unable to decide otherwise than by the fact itself, if any 
definite motion is necessarily voluntary or involuntary ; 
which affords sufficient proof of the absence of any real 
law in the case. The solution will probably be obtained 
by an analysis of the intermediate motions, as we may call 
them, — those which, involuntary at first, end in becoming 
voluntary; or the reverse. These cases, which are very 
common, appear to me eminently fit to prove that the dis- 


tinction between voluntary and involuntary motions arises 
from no radical difference of muscular irritability, but only 
from the mode, and perhaps the degree of innervation, 
modified by long habit. If this be as generally true as it 
seems to be in some cases of acquired control, it must be 
supposed that the most involuntary motions, which are 
those most indispensable to life, would have been suscep- 
tible of voluntiiry suspension (not even excepting the 
motions of the heart) if their incessant rigorous necessity 
had not hindered the contraction of suitable habits in their 
case. While we conclude it to be probable that the differ- 
ence between the two kinds of motion proceeds indirectly 
from the action of the entire nervous system upon the 
muscular system, we cannot help perceiving how greatly 
science stands in need of a thorough new examination into 
this obscure fact. 

This brief survey shows us the general Present state 
imperfection of the study of animality. We of analysis of 
shall find that even in the department of the animality. 
primitive analysis of its general phenomena, in which it 
appears so superior to that of the organic life, it is very 
far indeed from being yet fit for exploration by positive 

In regard to irritability, first,— the me- Movement, 
chanism of no animal movement has yet 
been satisfactorily analysed, — all the chief cases being still 
the subject of radical controversy among equally qualified 
physiologists. We retain a vicious distinction among 
movements, contrary to all mechanical judgment, — a dis- 
tinction between the general motion which displaces the 
whole mass, and the partial motions which subserve the 
organic life, — as for the reception of aliment, or the expul- 
sion of any residuum, or the circulation of fluids ; yet the 
first order are partial, though their object is unlike that 
of the second ; for, in a mechanical view, the organism 
allows of no others. By the great laws of motion, the 
animal can never displace its centre of gravity by interior 
motion, without co-operation from its environment, any 
more than a steam -carriage which should work without 
friction on a horizontal plane, turning its wheels without 
result. The movements which produce locomotion are not 


mechanically different from those, for instance, which carry 
food along the alimentary canal ; — the difference is in the 
apparatus, which, for locomotion, consists of exterior ap- 
pendages, so disposed as to cause a reaction in the medium, 
which produces the displacement of the whole body. 
Certain mollusks furnish an illustration of this, when they 
change their place by means of contractions of the cardiac 
muscle, or of intestinal muscles. The simplest notions of 
animal mechanics being thus obscured and corrupted in 
their origin, it is no wonder that the physiologists still 
dispute about the mechanism of the circulation, and most 
of the means of locomotion, as leaping, flying, swimming, 
etc. In the way in which they proceed, they are remote 
from any mutual understanding, and the most opposite 
opinions may be maintained with equal plausibility. It 
needs but a word to suggest to those who have attended to 
what has gone before, that this extreme imperfection 
results from the inadequate and faulty education of physio- 
logists, who are too often ignorant of the inorganic science 
which is here directly involved. The complexity of the 
animal apparatus, and the impossibility of bringing the 
primitive moving powers under any mathematical theory, 
will for ever forbid the application of numerical methods : 
but the great laws of equilibrium and motion are applic- 
able, through all varieties of apparatus, and are the same 
in animal mechanics, or celestial, or industrial, or any 
other mechanics whatever. Some physiologists, finding 
their difficulty, have handed over their study to the geo- 
meters and physicists : and these, with their habits of 
numerical precision, and their ignorance of anatomy, have 
brought out only absurd results. The remedy is, as we 
know, in the work being consigned to physiologists, duly 
prepared by a sufficient training in inorganic science. The 
study of animal sounds, or phonation, for instance, cannot 
be carried on to any purpose without such knowledge as 
physicists have of the theory of sound ; and the general 
production of the voice, and the differences of utterance 
among animals, require for their explanation a knowledge 
at once of acoustics and anatomy ; and speech itself requires 
this preparation no less, while demanding other requisites 
with it. It is to be hoped that all experience, in each 


department of scientific inquiry, will convince students 

more and more of the folly and mischief of the anarchical 

parcelling out of natural philosophy ; but the physiologists 

are those who. above all, must see the need of a better 

organization of scientific labour, — so remarkable as is the 

subordination of their particular science to all that have 

gone before. 

The analysis of the phenomena of sensibility is not more 

satisfactory than that of irritability : and even less so, if 

we leave out of the account the great knowledge that we 

have obtained, by anatomical study, of the corresponding 

organs ; a knowledge which, however, must here be con« 

nected with physiology. The least imperfect part of this 

study relates to the simple exterior sensa- ^ 

tions. The phenomenon of sensation is S'J^""' «*"- 

-I * .1 1 A t sation. 

composed of three elements, as we have seen: 

the impression of the external agent or the nervous ex« 
tremities, by the aid of some physical apparatus ; the 
transmission by the nervous fibre ; and the reception by 
the cerebral organ. The first of these suggests, like the 
mechanical facts we have been considering, the immediate 
dependence of the phenomenon on the laws of the inor- 
ganic world ; as the relation of the theory of visions to 
optics : of the theory of hearing to acoustics, in all that 
coDcems the mode of action proper to the apparatus of 
sight and hearing. And yet, more expressly than even in 
the case of mechanics, have these theories been delivered 
into the hands of the physicists, who, again, bring out re- 
sults from their treatment of them which are manifestlv 


absurd. The only difference between this case and the 
preceding is that the metaphysicians have kept a longer 
bold upon this part of animal physiology, — the theory of 
sensations having been abandoned to them till a very recent 
time. It was not, indeed, till Gall imparted his ever- 
memorable impulse to the investigation, that physiologists 
claimed this department at all. It is no wonder, therefore, 
that the positive theory of sensations is less well conceived, 
and more recent, than that of motion ; and naturally more 
imperfect, independently of its superior difficulty, and the 
backwardness of those branches of physics to which it re- 
lates. The simplest modifications of the phenomenon of 


vision and of hearing cannot as yet be referred with cer- 
tainty to determinate organic conditions ; as, for instance, 
the adjustment of the eye to see distinctly at very various 
distances ; a faculty which the physiologists have allowed 
the physicists to attribute to various circumstances of 
structure, always illusory or inadequate, the physiologists 
the while playing the part of critics, instead of appropriat- 
ing a study which belongs exclusively to them. Even the 
limits of the function are usually very vaguely defined : 
that is, the kind of exterior notions furnished by each 
sense, abstracted from all intellectual reflection, is rarely 
circumscribed with any distinctness. Thus it is no wonder 
if we are still ignorant of almost all positive laws of sight 
and hearing, and even of smell and taste. — The only point 
of doctrine, or rather of method, that we may consider to 
have attained any scientific stability, is the fundamental 
order in which the different kinds of sensations should be 
studied : and this notion has been supplied by comparative 
anatomy rather than by physiology. It consists in classi- 
fying the senses by their increasing speciality, — ^beginninjj: 
with the universal sense of contact, or touch, and proceed- 
ing by degrees to the four special senses, taste, smell, sight, 
and finally, hearing. This order is rationally determined 
by the analysis of the animal series, as the senses must be 
considered more special and of a higher kind in proportion 
as they disappear from the lower degrees of the zoological 
scale. It is remarkable that this gradation coincides with 
the degree of importance of the sensation in regard to 
sociality, if not to intelligence. Unhappily, it measures 
yet more evidently the increasing imperfection of the 
theory. — We ought not to pass over the luminous distinc- 
tion introduced by Gall between the passive and the active 
state of each special sense. An analogous consideration to 
this, but more fundamental, would consist, it seems to me, 
in distinguishing the senses themselves as active and 
passive, according as their action is, from their nature, 
voluntary or involuntary. This distinction seems ver\' 
marked in the case of sight and hearing ; the one requiring 
our free participation, to a certain extent, while the other 
affects us without our will, or even our consciousness. The 
more vague, but more profound influence that music 


exercises over us, compared with that of painting, seems to 
be chiefly attributable to such a diversity. An analogous 
difference, but less marked, exists between taste and smell. 

There is a second class of sensations, form- . 

ing the natural transition from the study of sensation 

the sensations to that of the affective and 
intellectual functions, which all physiologists, since the 
time of Cabanis, and yet more, of Gall, have found it 
necessary to admit, to complete the study of the sensations. 
They are the interior sensations which relate to the satis- 
faction of the natural wants ; and, in a pathological state, 
the pains produced by bodily alteration. These are still 
more indispensable than the first to the perfection of the 
organic life ; and, though they procure no direct notions 
of the external world, they radically modify, by their in- 
tense and continuous action, the general course of intellec- 
tual operations, which are, in most animal species, entirely 
subordinated to them. This great department of the 
theory of sensations is even more obscure and unadvanced 
than the foregoing. The only positive notion which is fairly 
established in regard to it is that the nervous system is in- 
dispensable to both kinds of sensibility. 

Once again we see how the extreme imperfection of 
doctrine here is owing to the imperfection of method ; and 
that again, as before, to the inadequate preparation of the 
inquirers to whom the study belongs. It is a great thing, 
however, to have withdrawn the subject from the control 
of the metaphysicians ; and some labours of contemporary 
physiologists authorize us to hope that the true spirit of 
the inquiry is at length entered into ; and that the study 
of the sensations will be directed, as it ought to be. to de- 
velope the radical accordance between anatomical and phy- 
siological analysis. 

Having reviewed the two orders of animal Mode of 
functions, we must consider the complemen- action of 

tary part of the theory of animality ; — the animality. 
ideas about the mode of action which are common to the 
phenomena of irritability and sensibility. It is true, these 
ideas belong also to intellectual and moral phenomena; 
but we must review them here, to complete our delineation 
of the chief aspects of the study of animal life. 


■ The considerations about such mode of action naturally 
divide themselves into two classes : the one relating to the 
function of either motion or sensation, separately ; and the 
other to the association of the two functions. The first 
may relate to either the mode or the degree of the animal 

T . ... phenomenon. Following this order, the first 

Intermittence. s_ ,, . . .. m - x^^ j. a ±\. • 

theory that presents itself is that of the in- 
termittence of action, and consequently, that of habit, 
which results from it. Bichat was the first who pointed 
out the intermittent character of every animal faculty, in 
contrast with the continuousness of vegetative phenomena. 
The double movement of absorption and exhalation which 
constitutes life could not be suspended for a moment 
without determining the tendency to disorganization: 
whereas, every act of irritability or sensibility is neces- 
sarily intermittent, as no contraction or sensation can be 
conceived of as indefinitely prolonged ; so that continuity 
would imply as great a contradiction in animal life as 
interruption in the organic. All the progress made, during 
the present century, in physiological anatomy, has contri- 
buted to the perfecting of this theory of intermittence. 
Eationally understood, it applies immediately to a very 
extensive and important class of animal phenomena; 
j^, that is, to those which belong to the different 

^^^' degrees of sleep. The state of sleep thus con- 
sists of the simultaneous suspension, for a certain time, 
of the principal actions of irritability and sensibility. It 
is as complete as the organization of the superior animals 
admits when it suspends all motions and sensations but 
such as are indispensable to the organic life, — their 
activity being also remarkably diminished. The phe- 
nomenon admits of great variety of degrees, from simple 
somnolence to the torpor of hybemating animals. But 
this theory of sleep, so well instituted by Bichat, is still 
merely initiated, and presents many fundamental difficul- 
ties, when we consider the chief modifications of such a 
state, even the organic conditions of which are very imper- 
f^-ctly known, except the stagnation of the venous blood in 
the brain, which appears to be generally an indispensable 
preliminary to all extended and durable lethargy. It is 
easy to conceive how the prolonged activity of the animal 

SLEEP. 109 

functions in a waking state may, bj the law of intermit* 
tence, occasion a proportional suspension : but it is not so 
easy to see why the suspension should be total when the 
activity has been only partial. Yet we see how profound 
is the sleep, intellectual and muscular, induced by fatigue 
of the muscles alone in men who, while awake, have given 
very little exercise to their sensibility, interior, or even 
exterior. We know still less of incomplete sleep ; espe- 
cially when only a part of the intellectual or affective 
organs, or of the locomotive apparatus is torpid ; whence 
arise dreams and various kinds of somnambulism. Yet 
such a state has certainly its own general laws, as well as 
the waking state. Some experiments, not duly attended 
to, perhaps justify the idea that, in animals, in which the 
cerebral life is much less varied, the nature of dreams 
becomes, to a certain point, susceptible of being directed 
at the pleasure of the observer, by the aid of external im- 
pressions produced, during sleep, upon the senses whose 
action is involuntary ; and especially smell. And in the 
case of Man, there is no thoughtful physician who, in 
certain diseases, does not take into the account the habitual 
character of the patient's dreams, in order to perfect the 
diagnosis of maladies in which the nervous system is espe- 
cially implicated: and this supposes that the state is 
subject to determinate laws, though they may be unknown. 
But, however imperfect the theory of sleep may still be, in 
these essential respects, it is fairly constituted upon a 
positive basis of its own ; for, looked at as a whole, it is 
explained^ according to the scientific acceptation of the 
term, by its radical identity with the phenomena of partial 
repose offered by all the elementary acts of the animal life. 
When the theory of intermittence is perfected, we shall, I 
imagine, adopt Gall's view of connecting it with the sym- 
pathy which characterizes all the organs of animal life, by 
regarding the two parts of the symmetrical apparatus as 
alternately active and passive, so that their function is 
never simultaneous : and this, as much in regard to the 
external senses as the intellectual organs. All this, how- 
ever, deserves a fresh and thorough investigation. 

The theory of Habit is a sort of necessary „ y^. . 
appendix to that of intermittence; and, like 


it, due to Bichat. A continuous phenomenon would be, in 
fact, capable of persistence, in virtue of the law of inertia ; 
but intermittent phenomena alone can give rise to habits, 
properly so called : that is, can tend to reproduce them- 
selves spontaneously through the influence of a preliminary 
repetition, sufficiently prolonged at suitable intervals. The 
importance of this animal property is now universally 
acknowledged among able inquirers, who see in it one of 
the chief tases of the gradual perfectibility of animals, 
and especially of Man. Through this it is that vital phe- 
nomena may, in some sort, participate in the admirable 
regularity of those of the inorganic world, by becoming, 
like them, periodical, notwithstanding their greater com- 
plexity. Thence also results the transformations, — optional 
up to a certain point of inveteracy of habit, and inevitable 
beyond that point, — of voluntary acts into involuntary ten- 
dencies. But the study of habit is no further advanced 
than that of intermittence, in regard to its analysis : for 
we have paid more attention hitherto to the influence of 
habits once contracted than to their origin, with regard to 
which scarcely any scientific doctrine exists. What is 
known lies in the department of natural history, and not 
in that of biology. Perhaps it may be found, in the course 
of scientific study, that we have been too hasty in calling 
this an animal property, though the animal structure may 
be more susceptible of it. In fact, there is no doubt that 
inorganic apparatus admits of a more easy reproduction 
of the same acts after a sufficient regular and prolonged 
reiteration, as I had occasion to observe in regard to the 
phenomenon of sound : and this is essentially the cha- 
racter of animal habit. According to this view, whic.-li I 
commend to the attention of biologists, and which, if true, 
would constitute the most general point of view on this 
subject, the law of habit may be scientifically attached to 
the law of inertia, as geometers understand it in the posi- 
tive theory of motion and equilibrium. 

In examining the phenomena common to irritability and 
sensibility under the aspect of their activity, physiologists 
have to examine the two extreme terms, — exaggerated 
action, and insufficient action, in order to determine the 
intermediate normal degree : for the study of intermediate 


cases can never be successfully undertaken till the extreme 
cases which comprehend them have been first examined. 

The need of exercising the faculties is n H f 

certainly the most general and important of activity, 

all those that belong to the animal life : we 
may even say that it comprehends them all, if we exclude 
what relates merely to the organic life. The existence of 
an animal organ is CDOugh to awaken the need imme- 
diately. We shall see, in the next volume, that this con- 
sideration is one of the chief bases that social physics 
derives from individual physiology. Unhappily this study 
is still very imperfect with regard to most of the animal 
functions, and to all the three degrees of their activity. 
To it we •must refer the analysis of all the varied phe- 
nomena of pleasure and pain, physical and moral. The 
case of defect has been even less studied than that of 
excess ; and yet its scientific examination is certainly not 
less important, on account of the theory of ennui, the con- 
sideration of which is so prominent in social physics, — not 
only in connection with an advanced state of civilization, 
but even in the roughest periods, in which, as we shall see 
hereafter, ennui is one of the chief moving springs of social 
evolution. As for the intermediate degree, which cha- 
racterizes health, welfare, and finally happiness, it cannot 
be well treated till the extremes are better understood. 
The only positive principle yet established in this part of 
])hysiology is that which prescribes that we should not 
contemplate this normal degree in an absolute manner, but 
in subordination to the intrinsic energy of the corre- 
sponding faculties ; as popular good sense has already 
admitted, however difficult it may be practically to con- 
form to the precept in social matters, from the unreflecting 
tendency of every man to erect himself into a necessary 
type of the whole species. 

We have now only to notice, further, the third order of 
considerations ; the study of the association of the animal 

This great subject should be divided into Association of 
two parts, relating to the sympathies, to the animal 
which Bichat has sufficiently drawn the functions, 
attention of physiologists, and the synergies, as Barthez 


has called them, which are at present too much neglected. 
The difference between these two sorts of vital association 
corresponds to that between the normal and the patho- 
logical states: for there is synergy whenever two organs 
concur simultaneously in the regular accomplishment of 
any function ; whereas sympathy supposes a certain per- 
turbation, momentary or permanent, partial or general, 
which has to be stopped by the intervention of an organ 
not primarily affected. These two modes of physiological 
association are proper to the animal life, any appearance 
to the contrary being due to the influence of animal over 
organic action. The study is fairly established on a rational 
basis; the physiologists of our time seeming to be all 
agreed as to the nervous system being the necessary agent 
of all sympathy ; and this is enough for the foundation 
of a positive theory. Beyond this, we have only disjointed 
though numerous facts. The study of the synergies, though 
more simple and better circumscribed, does not present, as 
yet, a more satisfactory scientific character, either as to 
the mutual association of the different motions, or as to 
the different modes of sensibility ; or as to the more general 
and complex association between the phenomena of sensi- 
bility and those of irritability. And yet this great subject 
leads directly to the most important theory that physiology 
can finally present, — that of the fundamental unity of the 
animal organism, as a necessary result of a harmony be- 
tween its various chief functions. Here alone it is that, 
taking each elementary faculty in its normal state, we can 
find the sound theory of the Ego, so absurdly perverted 
at present by the vain dreams of the metaphysicians : for 
the general sense of the I is certainly determined by the 
equilibrium of the faculties, the disturbance of which 
impairs that consciousness so profoundly in many diseases. 




THE remaining portion of biological philosophy is that 
which relates to the study of the affective and intel- 
lectual faculties, which leads us over from individual phy- 
siology to Social Physics, as vegetative physiology does 
from the inorganic to the organic philosophy. 

While Descartes was rendering: to the «, ^ 
world the glorious service of institutmg a ^f DescarteS 
complete system of positive philosophy, the 
reformer, with all his bold energy, was unable to raise 
himself so far above his age as to give its complete logical 
extension to his own theory by comprehending in it the 
part of physiology that relates to intellectual and moral 
phenomena. After having instituted a vast mechanical 
hypothesis upon the fundamental theory of the most simple 
and universal phenomena, he extended in succession the 
same philosophical spirit to the different elementary notions 
relating to the inorganic world ; and finally subordinated 
to it the study of the chief physical functions of the animal 
organism. But, when he arrived at the functions of the 
affections and the intellect, he stoj^ped abruptly, and ex- 
pressly constituted from them a special study, as an 
appurtenance of the metaphy si co-theological philosophy, 
to which he thus endeavoured to give a kind of new life, 
after having wrought far more successfully in sapping its 
scientific foundations. We have an unquestionable evi- 
dence of the state of his mind in his celebrated paradox 
about the intelligence and instincts of animals. He called 
brutes automata, rather than allow the application of the 
old philosophy to them. Being unable to pursue this 
method with Man, he delivered him over expressly to the 
domain of metaphysics and theology. It is difficult to see 
how he could have done otherwise, in the then existing 

II. I 



state of knowledge : and we owe to his strange hypothesis, 
which the physiologists went to work to confute, the clear- 
ing away of the partition which he set up between the 
study of animals and that of Man, and consequently, the 
entire elimination among the higher order of investigators, 
of theological and metaphysical philosophy. What the 
„. first contradictory constitution of the modern 

GaJl'sTime philosophy was, we may see in the great 

work of Malebranche, who was the chief 
interpreter of Descartes, and who shows how his philo- 
sophy continued to apply to the most complex parts of 
the intellectual system the same methods which had been 
shown to be necessarily futile with regard to the simplest 
subjects. It is necessary to indicate this state of things 
because it has remained essentially unaltered during the 
last two centuries, notwithstanding the vast progress of 
positive science, which has all the while been gradually 
preparing for its inevitable transformation. The school 
of Boerhaave left Descartes's division of subjects as they 
found it : and if they, the successors of Descartes in phy- 
siology, abandoned this department of it to the metaphysical 
method, it can be no wonder that intellectual and moral 
phenomena remained, till this century, entirely excluded 
from the great scientific movement originated and guided 
by the impulse of Descartes. The growing action of the 
positive spirit has been, during the whole succeeding in- 
terval, merely critical, — attacking the inefficacy of meta- 
physical studies, — exhibiting the perpetual reconciliation 
of the naturalists on points of genuine doctrine, in contrast 
to the incessant disputes of various metaphysicians, arguing 
still, as from Plato downwards, about the very elements of 
their pretended science : this criticism itself relating only 
to results, and still offering no objection to the supremacy 
of metaphysical philosophy, in the study of Man, in his 
intellectual and moral aspects. It was not till our own 
time that modern science, with the illustrious Gall for its 
organ, drove the old philosophy from this last portion of 
its domain, and passed on in the inevitable course from the 
critical to the organic state, striving in its turn to treat in 
its own way the general theory of the highest vital func- 
tions. However imperfect the first attempts, the thing is 


done. Subjected for half a century to the most decisive tests, 
this new doctrine has clearly manifested all the indications 
which can guarantee the indestructible vitality of scientific 
conceptions. Neither enmity nor irrational advocacy has 
hindered the continuous spread, in all parts of the scientific 
world, of the new system of investigation of intellectual and 
moral man. All the signs of the progressive success of a 
happy philosophical revolution are present in this case. 

The positive theory of the affective and in- Positive 
tellectual functions is therefore settled, irre- theory of 
versibly, to be this: — it consists in the experi- Cerebral 
mental and rational study of the phenomena i^nctions. 
of interior sensibility proper to the cerebral ganglions, 
apart from all immediate external apparatus. These pheno- 
mena are the most complex and the most special of all 
belonging to physiology ; and therefore they have naturally 
been the last to attain to a positive analysis ; to say nothing 
of their relation to social considerations, which must be an 
impediment in the way of their study. This study could 
not precede the principal scientific conceptions of the 
organic life, or the first notions of the animal life ; so that 
G-all must follow Bichat : and our surprise would be that 
he followed him so soon, if the maturity of his task did 
not explain it sufficiently. The grounds of 
my provisional separation of this part of pi^^^^^'^ 
physiology from the province of animal life 
generally are — the eminent differences between this order 
of phenomena and those that have gone before, — their 
more direct and striking importance, — and, above all, the 
greater imperfection of our present study of them. This 
new body of doctrine, thus erected into a third section of 
physiology, will assume its true place within the boun- 
daries of the second when we obtain a distincter knowledge 
of organic, and a more philosophical conception of animal 
physiology. We must bear in mind what the proper 
arrangement should be, — this third department differing 
much less from the second than the second differs from 
the first. 

We need not stop to draw out any parallel Vices of Psy- 
or contrast between phrenology and psycho- chological 
logy. Gall has fully and clearly exposed the systems. 


powerlessness of metaphysical methods for the study of 
intellectual and moral phenomena: and in the present 
state of the human mind, all discussion on this subject is 
superfluous. The great philosophical cause is tried and 
judged ; and the metaphysicians have passed from a state 
of domination to one of protestation, — in the learned world 
at least, where their opposition would obtain no attention 
but for the inconvenience of their still impeding the pro- 
gress of popular reason. The triumph of the positive 
method is so decided that it is needless to devote time and 
effort to any demonstration, except in the way of instruc- 
tion : but, in order to characterize, by a striking contrast, 
the true general spirit of phrenological physiology, it may 
be useful here to analyse very briefly the radical vices of 
the pretended physiological method, considered merely in 
regard to what it has in common in the principal existing 
schools ; — in those called the French, the German, and (the 
least consistent and also the least absurd of the three) the 
Scotch school : — that is. as far as we can talk of schools in 
a philosophy which, by its nature, must engender as many 
incompatible opinions as it has adepts gifted with any 
degree of imagination. We may, moreover, refer con- 
fidently to these sects for the mutual refutation of their 
most essential points of difference. 

Method. As for their fundamental principle of in- 

Interior terior observation, it would certainly be super- 

Observation, fluous to add anything to what I have already 
said about the absurdity of the supposition of a man seeing 
himself think. It was well remarked by M. Broussais, on 
this point, that such a method, if possible, would extremely 
restrict the study of the understanding, by necessarily 
limiting it to the case of adult and healthy Man, without 
any hope of illustrating this difficult doctrine by any com- 
parison of different ages, or consideration of pathological 
states, which yet are unanimously recognized as indis- 
pensable auxiliaries in the simplest researches about Man. 
But, further, we must be also struck by the resolute inter- 
dict which is laid upon all intellectual and moral study of 
animals, from whom the psychologists can hardly be 
expecting any interior observation. It seems rather strange 
that the philosophers who have so attenuated this immense 


subject should be those who are for ever reproaching their 
adversaries with a want of comprehensiveness and elevation. 
The case of animals is the rock on which all psychological 
theories have split, since the naturalists have compelled 
the metaphysicians to part with the singular expedient 
imagined by Descartes, and to admit that animals, in the 
higher parts of the scale at least, manifest most of our 
affective, and even intellectual faculties, with mere differ- 
ences of degree ; a fact which no one at this day ventures 
to deny, and which is enough of itself to demonstrate the 
absurdity of these idle conceptions. 

Recurring to the first ideas of philosophical common 
sense, it is at once evident that no fimction can be studied 
but with relation to the organ that fulfils it, or to the 
phenomena of its fulfilment : and, in the second place, that 
the affective functions, and yet more the intellectual, ex- 
hibit in the latter respect this particular characteristic, — 
that they cannot be observed during their operation, but 
only in their results, — more or less immediate, and more 
or less durable. There are then only two ways of studying 
such an order of functions; either det,ermining, with all 
attainable precision, the various organic conditions on 
which they depend, — which is the chief object of phreno- 
logical physiology ; or in directly observing the series of 
intellectual and moral acts, — which belongs rather to 
natural history, properly so called : these two inseparable 
aspects of one subject being always so conceived as to 
throw light on each other. Thus regarded, this great 
study is seen to be indissolubly connected on the one hand 
with the whole of the foregoing parts of natural philosophy, 
and especially with the fundamental doctrines of biology ; 
and, on the other hand, with the whole of history, — of 
animals as well as of man and of humanity. But when, 
by the pretended psychological method, the consideration 
of both the agent and the act is discarded altogether, what 
material can remain but an unintelligible conflict of words, 
in which merely nominal entities are substituted for real 
phenomena ? The most difficult study of all is thus set up 
in a state of isolation, without any one point of support in 
the most simple and perfect sciences, over which it is yet 
proposed to give it a majestic sovereignty : and in this all 


psychologists agree, however extreme may be their differ- 
ences on other points. 

Tinnfr; o About the method of psychology or ideo- 

Relationbe- logy, enough has been said. As to the 
tween the doctrine, the first glance shows a radical fault 

Affective and in it, common to all sects, — a false estimate 
Intellectual ^£ ^^ie general relations between the affective 

and the intellectual faculties.. However 
various may be the theories about the preponderance of the 
latter, all metaphysicians assert that preponderance by 
making these faculties their starting-point. The intellect 
is almost exclusively the subject of their speculations, and 
the affections have been almost entirely neglected ; and, 
moreover, always subordinated to the understanding. Now, 
such a conception represents precisely the reverse of the 
reality, not only for animals, but also for Man : for daily 
experience shows that the affections, the propensities, the 
passions, are the great springs of human life ; and that, 
so far from resulting from intelligence, their spontaneous 
and independent impulse is indispensable to the first 
awakening and continuous development of the various in- 
tellectual faculties, by assigning to them a permanent end, 
without which — to say nothing of the vagueness of their 
general direction — they would remain dormant in the 
majority of men. It is even but too certain that the least 
noble and most animal propensities are habitually the 
most energetic, and therefore the most influential. The 
whole of human nature is thus very unfaithfully repre- 
sented by these futile systems, which, if noticing the 
affective faculties at all, have vaguely connected them with 
one single principle, sympathy, and, above all, self- 
consciousness, always supposed to be directed by the in- 
tellect. Thus it is that, contrary to evidence, Man has 
been represented as essentially a reasoning being, con- 
bmually carrying on, unconsciously, a multitude of imper- 
jeptible calculations, with scarcely any spontaneity of 
tction, from infancy upwards. This false conception has 
loubtless been supported by a consideration worthy of all 
•espect, — that it is by the intellect that Man is modified 
md improved ; but science requires, before all things, the 
eality of any views, independently of their desirableness ; 


and it is always this reality wbich is the basis of genuine 
utility. Without denying the secondaiy influence of such 
a view, we can show that two purely philosophical causes, 
quite unconnected with any idea of application, and inherent 
in the nature of the method, have led the metaphysicians of 
all sects to this hypothesis of the supremacy of the intellect. 
The first is the radical separation which it was thought neces- 
sary to make between brutes and man, and -> j 
which would have been effaced at once by the j^g^jj 
admission of the preponderance of the affec- 
tive over the intellectual faculties ; and the second was the 
necessity that the metaphysicians found themselves under, 
of preserving the unity of what they called the /, that it 
might correspond with the unity of the soul. Theory of the/ 
in obedience to the requisitions of the theo- 
logical philosophy, of which metaphysics is, as we must ever 
bear in mind, the final transformation. But the positive 
philosophers, who approach the question with the simple 
aim of ascertaining the true state of things, and repro- 
ducing it with all positive accuracy in tlieir theories, have 
perceived th^t, according to universal experience, human 
nature is so far from being single that it is eminently 
multiple ; that is, usually induced in various directions by 
distinct and independent powers, among which equilibrium 
is established with extreme diflficulty when, as usually 
happens in civilized life, no one of them is, in itself, suffi- 
ciently marked to acquire spontaneously any considerable 
preponderance over the rest. Thus, the famous theory of 
the I is essentially without a scientific object, since it is 
destined to represent a purely fictitious state. There is, in 
this direction, as I have already pointed out, no other real 
subject of positive investigation than the study of the 
equilibrium of the various animal functions, — both of irri- 
tability and of sensibility, — ^which marks the normal state, 
in which each of them, duly moderated, is regularly and 
permanently associated with the whole of the others, 
according to the laws of sympathy, and yet more of 
synergy. The very abstract and indirect notion of the I 
proceeds from the continuous sense of such a harmony ; 
that is, from the universal accordance of the entire 
organism. Psychologists have attempted in vain to make- 


out of this idea, or rather sense, an attribute of humanity 
exclusively. It is evidently a necessary result of all animal 
life ; and therefore it must belong to all animals, whether 
they are able to discourse upon it or not. No doubt a cat, 
or any other vertebrated animal, without knowing how to 
say "I," is not in the habit of taking itself for another. 
Moreover, it is probable that among the superior animals 
the sense of personality is still more marked than in Man, 
on account of their more isolated life; though if we 
descended too far in the zoological scale we should reach 
organisms in which the continuous degradation of the 
nervous system attenuates this compound sense, to- 
gether with the various simple feelings on which it 

, It must not be overlooked that though the 

InsUnctf^ psychologists have agreed in neglecting the 

intellectual and moral faculties of brutes, 
which have been happily left to the naturalists, they have 
occasioned great mischief by their obscure and indefinite 
distinction between intelligence and instinct, thus setting 
up a division between human and animal nature which has 
had too much effect even upon zoologists to this day. The 
only meaning that can be attributed to the word instinct^ 
is any spontaneous impulse in a determinate direction, in- 
dependently of any foreign influence. In this primitive 
sense, the term evidently applies to the proper and direct 
activity of any faculty whatever, intellectual as well as 
affective ; and it therefore does not conflict with the term 
intelligence in any way, as we so often see when we speak 
of those who, without any education, manifest a marked 
talent for music, painting, mathematics, etc. In this way 
there is instinct, or rather, there are instincts in Man, as 
much or more than in brutes. If, on the other hand, we 
describe intelligence as the aptitude to modify conduct in 
conformity to the circumstances of each case, — which, in 
fact, is the main practical attribute of reason, in its proper 
sense, — it is more evident than before that there is no 
other essential difference between humanity and animality 
than that of the degree of development admitted by a 
faculty which is, by its nature, common to all animal life, 
and without which it could not even be conceived to exist. 


Thus the famous scholastic definition of Man as a reason- 
able animal offers a real no- meaning, since no. animal, 
especially in the higher parts of the zoological scale, could 
live without bein^ to a certain extent reasonable, in pro- 
portion to the complexity of its organism. Though the 
moral nature of animals has been but little and very im- 
perfectly explored, we can yet perceive, without possibility 
of mistake, among those that live with us and that are 
familiar with us, — judging of them by the same means of 
observation that we should employ about men whose 
language and ways were previously unknown to us, — that 
they not only apply their intelligence to the satisfaction of 
their organic wants, much as men do, aiding themselves 
also with some sort of language ; but that they are, in like 
manner, susceptible of a kind of wants more disinterested, 
inasmuch as thev consist in a need to exercise their 
faculties for the mere pleasure of the exercise. It is the 
same thing that leads children or savages to invent new 
sports, and that renders them, at the same time, liable to 
ennui. That state, erroneously set up as a special privilege 
of human nature, is sometimes sufficiently marked, in the 
case of certain animals, to urge them to suicide, when 
captivity has become intolerable. An attentive examina- 
tion of the facts therefore discredits the perversion of the 
word instinct when it is used to signify the fatality under 
which animals are impelled to the mechanical performance 
of acts uniformly determinate, vnthout any possible modi- 
fication from corresponding circumstances, and neither re- 
quiring nor allowing any education, properly so called. 
This gratuitous supposition is evidently a remnant of the 
automatic hypothesis of Descartes. Leroy has demon- 
strated that among mammifers and birds this ideal fixity 
in the construction of habitations, in the seeking of food 
by hunting, in the mode of migration, etc., exists only in 
the eyes of closet-naturalists or inattentive observers. 

After thus much notice of the radical vice of all psycho- 
logical systems, it would be departing from the object of 
this work to show how the intellectual faculties themselves 
have been misconceived. It is enough to refer to the refu- 
tation by which Gull and Spurzheim have introduced their 
labours: and I would particularly point out the philo- 


sophical demonstration by whicli they have exhibited the 
conclusion that sensation, memory, imagination, and even 
judgment, — all the scholastic faculties, in short, — are not, 
in fact, fundamental and abstract faculties, but only differ- 
ent degrees or consecutive modes of the same phenomenon, 
proper to each of the true elementary phrenological func- 
tions, and necessarily variable in different cases, with 
a proportionate activity. One virtue of this admirable 
analysis is that it deprives the various metaphysical 
theories of their one remaining credit, — their mutual 
criticism, which is here effected, once for all, with more 
efficacy than by any one of the mutually opposing schools. 
Again, it would be departing from the object of this 
portion of our work to judge of the doctrines of the schools 
by their results. What these have been we shall see in 
the next volume; the deplorable influence on the political 
and social condition of two generations of the doctrines of 
the French school, as presented by Helvetius, and of the 
German psychology, with the ungovernable I for its sub- 
ject ; and the impotence of the Scot<;h school, through the 
vagueness of what it called its doctrines, and their want of 
mutual connection. Dismissing all these for the present, 
we must examine the great attempt of QuU, in order to see 
what is wanting in phrenological philosophy to form it 
into the scientific constitution which is proper to it, and 
from which it is necessarily still more remote than organic, 
and even animal physiology. 

-^ . £ fi lit Two philosophical principles, now admitted 
doctrine * ^ *<> t)e indisputable, serve as the immovable 

basis of GuU's doctrine as a whole : viz., the 
innateness of the fundamental dispositions, affective and 
intellectual, and the plurality of the distinct and inde- 
pendent faculties, though real acts usually require their 
more or less complex concurrence. Within the limits of 
the human race, all cases of marked talents or character 
prove the first ; and the second is proved by the diversity 
of such marked cases, and by most pathological states, — 
especially by those in which the nervous system is directly 
affected. A comparative observation of the higher animals 
would dispel all doubt, if any existed in either case. These 
two principles, — aspects of a single fimdamental concep- 

gall's phbenological doctrine. 123 

tion, — are but the scientific expression of the results of 
experience, in all times and places, as to the intellectual 
and moral nature of Man, — an indispensable symptom of 
truth, with regard to all parent ideas, which must always 
be connected with the spontaneous indications of popular 
reason, as we have seen in preceding cases in natural philo- 
sophy. Thus, besides all guidance from analogy, after the 
study of the animal life, we derive confirmation from all 
the methods of investigation that physiology admits ; from 
direct observation, experiment, pathological analysis, the 
comparative method and popular good sense, — all of which 
converge towards the establishment of this double prin- 
ciple. Such a collection of proofs secures the stability of 
this much of phrenological doctrine, whatever transforma- 
tions other parts may have to undergo. In the anatomical 
view, this physiological conception corresponds with the 
division of the brain into a certain number of partical 
organs, symmetrical like those of the animal life, and, 
though more contiguous and mutually resembling than in 
any other system, and therefore more adapted both for 
sympathy and synergy, still distinct and mutually inde- 
pendent, as we were already aware was the case with the 
ganglions appropriate to the external senses. In brief, the 
brain is no longer an organ, but an apparatus of organs, 
more complex in proportion to the degree of animality. The 
proper object of phrenological physiology thence consists 
in determining the cerebral organ appropriate to each 
clearly marked, simple disposition, affective or intellec- 
tual ; or, reciprocally, which is more difficult, what func- 
tion is fulfilled by any portion of the mass of the brain 
which exhibit^ the anatomical conditions of a distinct 
organ. The two processes are directed to develope the 
agreement between physiological and anatomical analysis 
which constitutes the true science of living beings. Un- 
fortunately, our means are yet further from answering 
our aims than in the two preceding divisions of the 

The scientific principle involved in the pv- • • 
phrenological view is that the functions, the brain ^ 
affective and intellectual, are more elevated, 
more human, if you will, and at the same time less ener- 



getic, in proportion to the exclusiveness with which they 
belong to the higher part of the zoological series, their 
positions being in portions of the brain more and more 
restricted in extent, and further removed from its imme- 
diate origin, — according to the anatomical decision that 
the skull is simply a prolongation of the vertebral column, 
which is the primitive centre of the entire nervous system. 
Thus, the least developed and anterior part of the brain is 
appropriated to the characteristic faculties of humanity; 
and the most voluminous and hindmost part to those which 
constitute the basis of the whole of the animal kingdom. 
Here we have a new and confirmatory instance of the rule 
which we have had to follow in every science ; that it is 
necessary to proceed from the most general to the more 
special attributes, in the order of their diminishing gene- 
rality. We shall meet with it again in the one science 
which remains for us to review ; and its constant presence, 
through the whole range, points it out as the first law of 
the dogmatic procedure of the positive spirit. 

A full contemplation of GalPs doctrine convinces us of 
its faithful representation of the intellectual and moral 
nature of Man and animals. All the psychological sects 
have misconceived or ignored the pre-eminence of the 
affective faculties, plainly manifest as it is in all the moral 
phenomena of brutes, and even of Man ; but we find this 
fact placed on a scientific basis by the discovery that the 
affective organs occupy all the hinder and middle portion 
of the cerebral apparatus, while the intellectual occupy 
only the front portion, which, in extreme cases, is not 
more than a fourth, or even a sixth part of the whole. 
The difference between G-all and his predecessors was 
not in the separation of the two kinds of faculties, but 
that they assigned the brain to the intellectual faculties 
alone, regarding it as a single organ, and distributing the 
passions among the organs pertaining to the vegetative 
life, — the heart, the liver, etc. Bichat supported this 
view by the argument of the sympathies of these organs, 
under the excitement of the respective passions ; but the 
variableness of the seat of sympathy, according to native 
susceptibility or to accident, is a sufficient answer to such 
a plea, and teaches us simply the importance of con- 


sidering the influence exercised by the state of the brain 
upon the nerves which supply the apparatus of the organic 

Next comes the subdivision established by Subdiv'sion 
G-all and Spurzheim in each of these two 
orders. The affective faculties are divided into the pro- 
pensities, and the affections or sentiments, the first re- 
siding in the hindmost and lowest part of the brain; and 
the other class in the middle portion. The intellectual 
faculties are divided into the various perceptive faculties, 
which together constitute the range of observation : and 
the small number of reflective faculties, the highest of all, 
constituting the power of combination, by comparison and 
co-ordination. The upper part of the frontal region is the 
seat of these last, which are the chief characteristic attri- 
bute of human nature. There is a certain deficiency of 
precision in this description ; but, besides that we may 
expect improving knowledge to clear it up, we shall find, 
on close examination, that the inconvenience lies more in 
the language than in the ideas. The only language we 
have is derived from a philosophical period when all moral 
and even intellectual ideas were shrouded in a mysterious 
metaphysical unity, which allows us now no adequate choice 
of terms. 

Taking the ordinary terms in their literal sense, we 
should misconceive the fundamental distinction between 
the intellectual faculties and the others. When the former 
are very marked, they unquestionably produce real inclina- 
tions or propensities, which are distinguished from the 
inferior passions only by their smaller energy. Nor can 
we deny that their action occasions true emotions or senti- 
ments, more rare, more pure, more sublime than any other, 
and, though less vivid than others, capable of moving to 
tears ; and is testified by so many instances of the rapture 
excited by the discovery of truth, in the most eminent 
thinkers that have done honour to their race — as Archi- 
medes, Descartes, Kepler, Newton, etc. Would any thought- 
ful student take occasion, by such approximations, to deny 
all real distinction between the intellectual and affective 
faculties? The wiser conclusion to be drawn from the 
case is that we must reform our philosophical language, to 


raise it, by rigorous precision, to the dignity of scientific 
language. We may say as mucli about the subdivision of 
the affective faculties into propensities and sentiments, the 
distinction being, though less marked, by no means less 
real. Apart from all useless discussion of nomenclature, 
"we may say that the real difference has not been clearly 
seized. In a scieutific view, it would suffice to say that 
the first and fundamental class relates to the individual 
alone, or, at most, to the family, regarded successively in 
its principal needs of preservation, — such as reproduction, 
the rearing of young, the mode of alimentation, of habita- 
tion, etc. Whereas, the second more special class supposes 
the existence of some social relations, either among indi- 
viduals of a different species, or especially between indi- 
viduals of the same species, apart from sex, and determines 
the character which the tendencies of the animal must 
impress on each of these relations, whether transient or 
permanent. If we keep this distinctive character of the 
two classes in view, it will matter little what terms we use 
to indicate them, when once they shall have acquired a 
sufficient fixedness, through rational use. 

These are the great philosophical results of Gall's doc- 
trine, regarded, as I have now presented it, apart from all 
vain attempts to localize in a special manner the cerebral 
or phrenological functions. I shall have to show how such 
an attempt was imposed upon Gall by the necessities of 
his glorious mission : but, notwithstanding this unfortunate 
necessity, the doctrine embodies already a real knowledge 
of human and brute nature very far superior to all that 
had ever been offered before. 

^., . ^. Among the innumerable objections which 

Objections. -i v°. j j. a.\,- n jx* 

•' . have been aimed at this fine doctrine, — con- 

Necessity of sidered always as a whole,— the only one 
numan actions. , . , •. *^-i. . •• . .i "^ i 

which ments discussion here is the supposed 

necessity of human actions. This objection is not only of 
high importance in itself, but it casts new light back upon 
the spirit of the theory ; and we must briefly examine it 
from the point of view of positive philosophy. 

When objectors confound the subjection of events to 
invariable laws with their necessary exemption from modi- 
fication, they lose sight of the fact that phenomena become 


susceptible of modification in proportion to their com- 
plexity. The only irresistible action that we know of is 
that of weight, which takes place under the Answered 
most general and simple of all natural laws. 
But the phenomena of life and acts of the mind are so 
highly complex as to admit of modification beyond all 
estimate ; and, in the intermediate regions, phenomena are 
under control precisely in the order of their complexity. 
Gall and Spurzheim have shown how human action depends 
on the combined operation of several faculties ; how exercise 
develops them ; how inactivity wastes them ; and how the 
intellectual faculties, adapted to modify the general conduct 
of the animal according to the variable exigencies of his 
situation, may overrule the practical influence of all his 
other faculties. It is only in mania, when disease inter- 
feres with the natural action of the faculties, that fatality, 
or what is popularly called irresponsibility, exists. It is 
therefore a great mistake to accuse cerebral physiology of 
disowning the influence of education or legislation, because 
it fixes the limits of their power. It denies the possibility, 
asserted by the ideology of the French school, of converting 
by suitable arrangements, all men into so many Socrates, 
Homers, or Archimedes ; and it denies the ungovernable 
energy of the I, asserted by the German school; but it 
does not therefore affect Man's reasonable liberty, or inter- 
fere with his improvement by the aid of a wise education. 
It is evident indeed that improvement by education sup- 
poses the existence of requisite predispositions: and that 
each of them is subject to determinate laws, without which 
they could not be systematically influenced ; so that it is, 
after all, cerebral physiology that is in possession of the 
philosophical problem of education. Furthermore, this 
physiology shows us that men are commonly of an average 
constitution ; that is, that, apart from a very few excep- 
tional organizations, every one possesses in a moderate 
degree all the propensities, all the sentiments, and all the 
elementary aptitudes, without any one faculty being re- 
markably preponderant. The widest field is thus open 
for education, in modifying in almost any direction or- 
ganisms so flexible, though the degree of their develop- 
ment may remain of that average amount which consists 


very well with social harmony ; as we shall have occasion 
to see hereafter. 

Hypothetical A much more serious objection to Gall's 
distribution of doctrine arises out of the venturesome and 
faculties. largely erroneous localization of the faculties 

which he thought proper to propose. If we look at his 
position, we shall see that he merely used the right, common 
to all natural philosophers, of instituting a scientific hypo- 
thesis, in accordance with the theory on that subject which 
we examined in connection with Phvsics. He fulfilled the 
conditions of this theory ; his subject being, not any 
imaginary fluids, ether or the like, but tangible organs, 
whose hypothetical attributes admit of positive verifica- 
tions. Moreover, none of those who have criticised his 
localization could have proposed any less imperfect, or, 
probably, so well indicated. The advice of prudent medio- 
crity, to abstain from hypothesis, is very easy to offer ; but 
if the advice was followed, nothing would ever be done in 
the way of scientific discovery. It is doubtless inconvenient 
to have to withdraw or remake, at a subsequent period, the 
hypotheses to which a science owes its existence, and which, 
by that time, have been adopted by inferior inquirers with 
a blinder and stronger faith than that of the original pro- 
posers : but there is no use in dwelling upon a liability 
which arises from the infirmity of our intelligence. The 
practical point for the future is that strong minds, pre- 
pared by a suitable scientific education, should plant them- 
selves on the two great principles which have been laid 
down as the foundation of the science, and thence explore 
the principal needs of cerebral physiology, and the character 
of the means by which it may be carried forwards. Nor 
need there be any fear that the science will be held back 
by such a method. Nothing prevents us, when reasoning, 
as geometers do, upon indeterminate seats, or positions 
supposed to be indeterminate, from arriving at real con- 
clusions, involving actual utility, as I hope to show, from 
my own experience, in the next volume ; though it is evident 
that it will be a great advantage to the exactness and efficacy 
of our conclusions, whenever the time arrives for the posi- 
tive determination of the cerebral organs. Meantime it is 
clear that we owe to Gall's hypothetical localization our 


view of the necessity of such a course ; and that if he had 
confined himself to the high philosophical generalities with 
which he has furnished us, he would never have constituted 
a science, nor formed a school ; and the truths which we 
see to be inestimable would have been strangled in their 
birth bj a coalition of hostile influences. 

We see what is the philosophical character 
of cerebral physiology. We must next in- ovements. 
quire what are the indispensable improve- 
ments that it demands. 

First, we want a fundamental rectification of all the 
organs and faculties, as a necessary basis for all further 
progress. Taking an anatomical view of this matter, we 
see that the distribution of organs has been directed by 
physiological analyses alone, — usually imper- a + • t 
feet and superficial enough, — instead of being \,^s ™^^* 
subjected to anatomical determinations. This 
has entitled all anatomists to treat such a distribution as 
arbitrary and loose, because, being subject to no anatomical 
consideration about the difference between an organ and a 
part of an organ, it admits of indefinite subdivisions, which 
each phrenologist seems to be able to multiply at will. 
Though the analysis of functions no doubt casts much 
light on that of organs, the original decomposition of the 
whole organism into systems of organs, and those again 
into single organs, is not the less independent of physio- 
logical analysis, to which, on the contrary, it must furnish 
a basis. This is established in regard to all other bio- 
logical studies ; and there is no reason why cerebral in- 
quiries should be an exception. We do not need to see 
the digestive, or the respiratory apparatus in action, before 
anatomy can distinguish them from each other : and why 
should it be otherwise with the cerebral apparatus ? The 
anatomical difficulties are no doubt much greater, on 
account of the resemblance and proximity of the organs in 
the cerebral case : but we must not give up this indispens- 
able analysis for such a reason as that. If it were so, we 
must despair of conferring a special scientific character on 
phrenological doctrine at all ; and we must abide by those 
generalities alone which I have just laid down. When we 
propose to develope the harmony between the anatomical 

II. K 


and the physiological analysis of any case, it is supposed 
that each has been separately established, and not that the 
one can be copied from the other. Nothing therefore can 
absolve the phrenologists from the obligation to pursue 
the analysis of the cerebral system by a series of vigorous 
anatomical labours, discarding for the time all ideas of 
function, or, at most, employing them only as auxiliary to 
anatomical exploration. Such a consideration will be most 
earnestly supported by those phrenologists who perceive 
that, in determining the relative preponderance of each 
cerebral organ in different subjects, it is not only the bulk 
and weight of the organ that has to be taken into the 
account, but also its degree of activity, anatomically esti- 
mated, by, for instance, the energy of its partial circu- 

Next, following a distinct but parallel order of ideas, 

there must be a purely physiological analysis 

Physiological ^f ^j^^ various elementary faculties ; and in 

analysis of , , . , . v i. i j. x. i. • j 

faculties. *'"^^ analysis, which has to be harmonized 

with the other, every anatomicfJ idea must 
be, in its turn, discarded. The position of phrenology is 
scarc^ely more satisfactory in this view than any other, for 
the distinction between the different faculties, intellectual 
and even affective, and their enumeration are conceived of 
in a very superficial way, though incomparably more in the 
positive spirit than any metaphysical analyses. If meta- 
physicians have confounded all their psychological notions 
in an absurd unity, it is probable that the phrenologists 
have gone to the other extreme in multiplying elementary 
functions. Gall set up twenty-seven ; which was, no doubt, 
an exaggeration to begin with. Spurzheim raised the num- 
ber to thirty-five ; and it is liable to daily increase for want 
of a rational principle of circumscription for the regulation 
of the easy enthusiasm of popular explorers. Unless a 
sound philosophy interposes, to establish some order, we 
may have as many faculties and organs as the psycho- 
logists of old made entities. However great may be the 
diversity of animal natures, or even of human types, it is 
yet to be conceived, (as real acts usually suppose the con- 
currence of several fundamental faculties,) that even a 
greater multiplicity might be represented by a very small 


number of elementary functions of the two orders. K, for 
instance, the whole number were reduced to twelve or 
fifteen well-marked faculties, their combinations, binary, 
ternary, quaternary, etc., would doubtless correspond to 
many more types than can exist, even if we restricted our- 
selves to distinguishing, in relation to the normal degree 
of activity of each function, two other degrees, — one higher 
and the other lower. But the exorbitant multiplication of 
faculties is not in itself so shocking as the levity of most 
of the pretended analyses which have regulated their dis- 
tribution. In the intellectual order, especially, the apti- 
tudes have been usually ill-described, apart from the 
organs : as when a mathematical aptitude is assigned on 
grounds which would justify our assigning a chemical 
aptitude, or an anatomical aptitude, if the whole bony 
casket had not been previously parcelled off into irre- 
moveable compartments. If a man could do sums accord- 
ing to rules quickly and easily, he had the mathematical 
aptitude, according to those who do not suspect that 
mathematical speculations require any superiority of in- 
tellect. Though the analysis of the affective faculties, 
which are so much better marked, is less imperfect, there 
are several instances of needless multiplication in that 

To rectify or improve this analysis of the Examination 
cerebral faculties, it would be useful to add of historical 
to the observation of Man and society a cases, 
physiological estimate of the most marked individual 
cases, — especially in past times. The intellectual order, 
which most needs revision, is that which best admits of this 
procedure. If, for instance, it had been applied to the 
cases of the chief geometers, the absurd mistake that I 
have just pointed out could not have been committed; for 
it would have been seen what compass and variety of 
faculties are required to constitute mathematical genius, 
and how various are the forms in which that genius mani- 
fests itself. One great geometer has shone by the sagacity 
of his inventions ; another by the strength and extent of 
his combinations ; a third by the happy choice of his nota- 
tions, and the perfection of his algebraic style, etc. We 
might discover, or at least verify, all the real fundamental 


intellectual faculties by the scientific class alone. In an 
inferior degree it would be the same with an analogous 
study of the most eminent artists. This consideration, in 
its utmost extent, is connected with the utility of the 
philosophical study of the sciences, under the historical as 
well as the dogmatical point of view, for the discovery of 
the logical laws concerned: the difference being that in 
this last case, we have first to determine the elementary 
faculties, and not the laws of their action : but the grounds 
must be essentially analogous. 

Phrenological analysis has, then, to be reconstituted; 
first in the anatomical, and then in the physiological order ; 
and finally, the two must be harmonized ; and not till then 
can phrenological physiology be established upon its true 
scientific basis. Such a procedure is fairly begun, as we 
have seen, with regard to the two preceding divisions of 
our science ; but it is not yet even conceived of in relation 
to cerebral physiology, from its greater complexity and 
more recent positivity. 

Pathological The phrenologists must make a much more 

andCompara- extensive use than hitherto of the means 
tive analjrsis. furnished by biological philosophy for the 
advancement of all studies relating to living bodies : that 
is, of pathological, and yet more of comparative analysis. 
The luminous maxim of M. Broussais, which lies at the 
foundation of medical philosophy, — that the phenomena of 
the pathological state are a simple prolongation of the 
phenomena of the normal state, beyond the ordinary limits 
of variation, — has never been duly applied to intellectual 
and moral phenomena : yet it is impossible to understand 
anything of the different kinds of madness, if they are not 
examined on this principle. Here, as in a former division 
of the science, we see that the study of malady is the way 
to understand the healthy state. Nothing can aid us so 
well in the discovery of the fundamental faculties as a 
judicious study of the state of madness, when each faculty 
manifests itself in a degree of exaltation which separates 
it distinctly from others. There has been plentiful study 
of monomania ; but it has been of little use, for want of a 
due connection and comparison with the normal state. 
The works that have appeared on the subject have been 


more literary than scientific ; those who have had the best 
opportunity for observation have been more engaged in 
governing their patients than in analysing their cases ; and 
the successors of Pinel have added nothing essential to the 
ameliorations introduced by him, half a century ago, in 
regard to the theory and treatment of mental alienation. 
As for the study of animals, its use has been vitiated by 
the old notions of the difference between instinct and 
intelligence. Humanity and animality ought reciprocally 
to cast light upon each other. If the whole set of faculties 
constitutes the complement of animal life, it must surely 
be that all that are fundamental must be common to all 
the superior animals, in some degree or other : and differ- 
ences of intensity are enough to account for the existing 
diversities, — the association of the faculties being taken 
into the account, on the one hand, and, on the other, the 
improvement of Man in society being set aside. If there 
are any faculties which belong to Man exclusively, it can 
only be such as correspond to the highest intellectual 
aptitudes : and this much may appear doubtful if we com- 
pare, in an unprejudiced way, the actions of the highest 
mammifers with those of the least developed savages. It 
seems to me more rational to suppose that power of observa- 
tion and even of combination exists in animals, though in 
an immeasurably inferior degree; — the want of exercise, 
resulting chiefly from their state of isolation, tending to 
benumb and even starve the organs. Much might be 
learned from a study of domestic animals, though they are 
far from being the most intelligent. Much might be 
learned by comparing their moral nature now with what it 
was at periods nearer to their first domestication ; for it 
would be strange if the changes that they have undergone 
in so many physical respects had been unaccompanied by 
variations in the functions which more easily than any 
others admit of modification. The extreme imperfection 
of phrenological science is manifest in the pride with which 
Man, from the height of his supremacy, judges of animals 
as a despot judges of his subjects ; that is, in the mass, 
without perceiving any inequality in them worth noticing. 
It is not the less certain that, surveying the whole animal 
hierarchy, the principal orders of this hierarchy sometimes 


differ more from each other, in intellectual and moral 
respects, than the highest of them vary from the human 
type. The rational study of the mind and the ways of 
animals has still to be iustituted, — nothing having yet 
been doue but in the way of preparation. It promises an 
ample harvest of important discovery directly applicable to 
the advancement of the study of Man, if ouly the naturalists 
will disregard the declamation of theologians and meta- 
physicians about their pretended degradation of human 
nature, while they are, on the contrary, rectifying the 
fundamental notion of it by establishing, rigorously and 
finally, the profound differences which positively separate 
us from the animals nearest to us in the scale. 

T f .. The two laws of action, — intermission and 

J ^W8 of action. ... . , .... 

association, — require much more attention 

than they have yet received in connection with cerebral 
physiology. The law of intermittence is eminently applic- 
able to the functions of the brain, — the symmetry of the 

, , .^, organs beintf borne in mind. But this ^reat 

Intermittence v.* i. • • x- • 

and continuity, subject requires a new examination, seeing 

' that it is requisite for science to reconcile 
their evident intermittence with the perfect continuity that 
seems to be involved in the connection which mutually 
imites all our intellectual operations, from earliest infancy 
to extreme decrepitude, and which cannot be interrupted 
by the deepest cerebral perturbations, provided they are 
transient. This question, for which metaphysical theories 
allowed no place, certainly offers serious difficulties: but 
its positive solution must throw great light upon the general 
course of intellectual acts. As for the association of the 
Association. faculties, in sympathy or synergy, the physio- 
logists begin to understand its high import- 
ance, though its general laws have not yet been scientifically 
studied. Without this consideration, the number of pro- 
pensities, sentiments, or aptitudes would seem to be sus- 
ceptible of any degree of multiplication. For one instance, 
investigators of human nature have been wont to distin- 
guish various kinds of courage, under the names of civil, 
military, etc., though the original disposition to brave any 
kind of danger must always be uniform, but more or less 
directed by the understanding. No doubt, the martyr who 


endures the most horrible tortures with unshaken fortitude 
rather than deny his convictions, and the man of science 
who undertakes a perilous experiment after having calcu- 
lated the chances, might fly in the field of battle if com- 
pelled to fight for a cause in which they felt no interest ; 
but not the less is their kind of courage the same as that 
of the brave soldier. Apart from inequalities of degree, 
there is no other difference than the superior influence of 
the intellectual faculties. Without the diverse cerebral 
synergies, either between the two great orders of faculties, 
or between the different functions of each order, it would 
be impossible to analyse the greater proportion of mental 
actions ; and it is in the positive interpretation of each of 
them by such association that the application of phreno- 
logical doctrine will chiefly consist, when such doctrine 
shall have been scientifically erected. When the elemen- 
tary analysis shall have been instituted, allowing us to pass 
on to the study of these compound phenomena, we may 
think of proceeding to the more delicate inquiry whether, 
in each cerebral organ, a distinct part is not especially 
appropriate to the establishment of these synergies and 
sympathies. Some pathological observations have given 
rise to this suspicion, — the grey substance of the brain 
appearing more inflamed in those perturbations which 
aiect the phenomena of the will, and the white in those 
which relate to intellectual operations. 

If our existing phrenology isolates the Unity of the 
cerebral functions too much, it is yet more brain and ner- 
open to reproach for separating the brain vous system, 
from the whole of the nervous system. Bichat taught us 
that the intellectual and affective phenomena, all-important 
as they are, constitute, in the whole system of the animal 
economy, only an intermediate agency between the action 
of the external world upon the animal through sensorial 
impressions, and the final reaction of the animal by muscular 
contractions. Now, in the present state of phrenological 
physiology, no positive conception exists with regard to 
the relation of the series of cerebral acts to this last neces- 
sary reaction. We merely suspect that the spinal marrow 
is its immediate organ. Even if cerebral physiology care- 
fully comprehended the whole of the nervous system, it 


would still, at present, separate it too much from the rest 
of the economy. While rightly discarding the ancient 
error about the seat of the passions being in the organs of 
the vegetative life, it has too much neglected the great 
influence to which the chief intellectual and moral func- 
tions are subject from other physiological phenomena; 
as Cabanis pointed out so emphatically, while preparing 
the way for the philosophical revolution which we owe to 

We have now seen how irrational and narrow is the way 
in which intellectual and moral physiology is conceived of 
and studied : and that till this is rectified, the science, 
which really appears not to have advanced a single step 
since its institution, cannot make any true progress. We 

T ^ J. J. J. see how it requires, above even the other 
Imperfect state v -i i; v: • i xi. *• £ 

of Phrenology, tranches of physiology, the preparation of 

scientific habits, and familiarity with the 
foregoing departments of natural philosophy ; and how, 
from its vicious isolation, it tends to sink to the level of 
the most superficial and ill-prepared minds, which will 
make it the groundwork of a gross and mischievous 
quackery, if the true scientific inquirers do not take it out 
of their hands. No inconveniences of this kind, however, 
should blind us to the eminent merits of a conception 
which will ever be one of the principal grounds of distinc- 
tion of the philosophy of the nineteenti century, in com- 
parison with the one which preceded it. 
^>^ . . . Looking back, on the completion of this 

of Biology. survey of the positive study of living bodies, 

we see that, imperfect as it is, and unsatis- 
&<;tory as are the parts which relate to life, compared with 
those which relate to organization, still the most imperfect 
have begun to assume a scientific character, more or less 
clearly indicated, in proportion to the complexity of the 

We have now surveyed the whole system of natural 
philosophy, from its basis in mathemati^l, to its termina* 
tion in biological philosophy. Notwithstanding the vast 
interval embraced by these two extremities, we have passed 
through the whole by an almost insensible gradation, 
finding nothing hypothetical in the transition, through 


chemistry, from inorganic to organic philo- Retrospect of 
sophy, and verifying as we proceeded the Natural Phi- 
rigorous continuity of the system of the losophy. 
natural sciences. That system, though comprehending all 
existing knowledge, is, however, still incomplete, leaving a 
wide area to the retrograde influence of the theologico- 
metaphysical philosophy, to which it abandons a whole 
order of ideas, the most immediately applicable of all. 
There is yet wanting, to complete the body of positive 
philosophy, and to organize its universal preponderance, 
the subjection to it of the most complex and special phe- 
nomena of all, — those of humanity in a state of association. 
I shall therefore venture to propose the new science of 
Social Physics, which I have found myseK compelled to 
create, as the necessary complement of the system. This 
new science is rooted in biology, as every science is in the 
one which precedes it; and it will render the body of 
doctrine complete and indivisible, enabling the human 
mind to proceed on positive principles in all directions 
whatever, to which its activity may be incited. Imperfect 
as the preceding sciences are, they have enough of the 
positive character to render this last transformation pos- 
sible: and when it is effected, the way will be open for 
their future advancement, through such an organization of 
scientific labour as must put an end to the intellectual 
anarchy of our present condition. 





IN the five foregoing parts of this work, our investiga- 
tion proceeded on an ascertained and undisputed 
scientific basis ; and our business was to exhibit the pro- 
gress made in each science ; to free it from entanglement 
with the ancient philosophy; and to show what further 
improvements might be anticipated. Our task is a dif- 
ferent, and a much harder one, in the case of the sixth and 
last science that I am about to treat of. The theories of 
Social science are still, even in the minds of the best 
thinkers, completely implicated with the theologico-meta- 
physical philosophy; and are even supjK>sed to be, by a 
fatal separation from all other science, condemned to 
remain so involved for ever. The philosophical procedure 
which I have undertaken to carry through becomes more 
difficult and bold, from this point onwards, without at 
all ««hanging its nature or object ; and it must so far 
present a new character as it must henceforth be employed 
in creating a wholly new order of scientific conceptions, 
instead of judging, arranging, and improving such as 
already existed. 

It is not to be expected that this new science can l)e at 
once raised to a level with even the most imperfect of those 
which we have been reviewing. All that can be rationally 
proposed in our day is to recognize the character of posi- 
tivity in social as in all other science, and to ascertain the 
chief bases on which it is founded ; but this is enough, as 
I hope to show, to satisfy our most urgent intellectual 


necessities, and even the most imperative needs of im- 
mediate social practice. In its scientific connection with 
the rest of this work, all that I can hope to do is to exhibit 
the general considerations of the case, so as to resolve the 
intellectual anarchy which is the main source ., , - 

of our moral anarchy first, and then of the thTSubUct 
political, which I shall treat of only through 
its originating causes. The extreme novelty of such a 
doctrine and method renders it necessary, before entering 
upon the immediate subject, to set forth the importance of 
such a procedure, and the futility of the chief attempts 
which have been indirectly made to investigate social 
science. However unquestionable may be the need of such 
science, and the obligation to discover it, the best minds 
have not yet attained a point of view from which they can 
estimate its depth and breadth and true })osition. In its 
nascent state eveVy science is implicated with its corre- 
sponding art ; and remains implicated witli it, as we have 
seen, the longer in proportion to the complexity of the 
phenomena concerned. If biological science, which is more 
advanced than social, is still too closely connected with the 
medical art, as we have seen that it is, we cannot be sur- 
l)rised that men are insensible to the value of all social 
speculations which are not immediately connected with 
practical affairs. We cannot be surprised at any obsti- 
nacy in repelling them, as long as it is supposed that by 
rejecting them, society is preserved from chimerical and 
mischievous sc^hemes : though experience has abundantly 
shown that the precaution has never availed, and that it 
does not now prevent our being daily invaded by the most 
illusory proposals on social matters. It is in deference to 
as much as is reasonable in this apprehension that I pro- 
pose to state, first, how the institution of a science of Social 
Physics bears upon the principal needs and grievances of 
society, in its present deplorable state of anarchy. Such a 
representation may perhaps convince men worthy of the 
name of statesmen that there is a real and eminent utility 
in labours of this kind, worthy of the anxious attention of 
men who profess to devote themselves to the task of re- 
solving the alarming revolutionary constitution of modern 

140 posiTivK PHILOSOPHY. 

From the point of view to which we have been raised 
by our study of the preceding sciences, we are able to 
survey the social situation of our own time in its fullest 
extent and broadest light ; and what we see is that there 
is a deep and wid ely-spread ana rchy of the whole inteH 
Igctual sys tem," which has Boan in this stete of disturbance 
diinng the long interregnum, resulting from the decline 
of the theologico-metaphysic al philosophy . 3[Fihe present 
time, the old philosophy is in a state of imbecility ; while 
the development of the positive philosophy, though always 
proceeding, has not yet been bold, broad, and general 
enough to comprehend the mental government of the 
human race. We must go back through that interr egnum 
to underst and truly the present floating and contradictory 
state of all great social ideas, and: to perceive how socie^ 
is_toJbejieliveredrfrourtE^ and brought 

under a new o rgaiiTzation, more consistent and more pr5- 
jnressive than tlmt_which once rested' on the theological 
philoso phy. When we have duly observed the powerless- 
ness of conflicting political schools, we shall see the neces- 
sity of introducing an entirely new spirit into the 
organization of society, by which these useless and pas- 
sionate struggles may be put an end to, and society led 
out of the revolutionarv state in which it has been tossed 
for three centuries past. 

Conditions of UThe ancients used to suppose Ord er and 
Order and Progress to be irreconcilable : but both are 


Progress. indispe ns able conditions in a^state of modem 

civilization ; and their combination is at once the grand 
difficulty and the main resource of every genuine political 
system. No real order can be establis hed, and still less 
can it las t, if it is not fully compatible wit fi progress : and 
no grf> ftt progresfl .can be accomplished if It does not ten's* 
to the consolidation of order. Any conception which is so 
devoted to one of these needs as to prejudice the other, is 
sure of rejection, sooner or later, as mistaking the nature 
of the political problem. Therefore, in positiv e social 
scien ce, the chief feature m ust be th e u nion of Tihese two 
cond itions^ which will be two aspects, constant and iusepar- 
able, of the same principle.'^ Throughout the whole range 


of science, thus far, we have seen that the conditions of 
combination and of progress are originally identical : and 
I trust we shall see, after looking into social science in the 
same way, that ideas of Order and Progress are, in Social 
Physics, as rigorously inseparable as the ideas of Organiza- 
tion and Life in Biology : from whence indeed they are, in 
a scientific view, evidently derived. 

The misfortune of our actual state is that the two ideas 
are set up in radical opposition to each other, — the retro- 
grade spirit having directed all efforts in favour of Order, 
and anarchical doctrine having arrogated to itself the 
charge of Social Progress ; and, in this state of things, the 
reproaches exchanged between the respective parties are 
only too well merited by both. In this vicious circle is 
society now confined ; and the only issue from it is by the 
undisputed preponderance of a doctrine equally progres- 
sive and hierarchical. The observations which I have to 
make on this subject are applicable to all European societies, 
which have, in fact, all undergone a common disorganiza- 
tion, though in different degrees, and with various modifica- 
tions, and which cannot be separately reorganized, however 
they may be for a time restrained ; but I shall keep the 
French nation chiefly in view, not only because the revolu- 
tionary state has been most conspicuous in them, but because 
they are, in all important respects, better prepared, in spite 
of appearances, than any other, for a true reorganization. 

Among the infinite variety of political ideas which 
appear to be striving in society, there are in fact only two 
orders, the mingling of which in various proportions occa- 
sions the apparent multiplicity : and of these two, the one 
is really only the negation of the other. If we wish to 
understand our own condition, we must look at it as the 
result and last term of the general conflict undertaken, for 
three centuries past, for the gradual demolition of the old 
political system. So regarding it, we see that whereas, for 
above half a century, the irremediable decay of the old 
system has proved the necessity of founding a new one, we 
have not been sufficiently aware of the need to have 
formed an original and direct conception, adequate to the 
purpose ; so that our theoretical ideas have remained 
inferior to our practical necessities, which, in a healthy 


state of the social organism, they habitxiallj anticipate, to 
prepare for their regular and peaceable satisfaction. 
Though the political movement could not Hiit have 
changed its nature, from that time forward, becoming 
organic instead of critical, yet, for want of a basis in 
science, it has proceeded on the same old ideas that had 
actuated the past struggle; and we have witnessed the 
spectacle of defenders and assailants ahke endeavouring to 
convert their old weapons of war into instruments of reor- 
ganization, without suspecting the inevitable failure which 
must ensue to both parties. Such is the state that we find 
ourselves in now. All ideas of ord e r in the political world 
I ar e derived from the old doctrine ot the theologic al an3 
I mi litary system , regarded especially in its catholic and 
feudal constitution : a doctrine which from our point of 
view in this work, represents the theological state of social 
science : and, in the same way, all ideas of pr^gfeaa are 
still derived from the purely negative pbilosophv w hich. 
issuing from protestantism , assumed its final form ancl 
development in the last century, and which, applied to 
social affairs, constitutes the metaphy sica l state of politics. 
The different classes of society range themselves on the 
one side or the other, according to their inclination for 
conservatism or amelioration. With every new uprising 
of a social diflSculty, we see the retrograde school propos- 
ing, as the only certain and universal remedy, the restora- 
tion of the corresponding part of the old political system ; 
and the critical school referring the evil exclusively to the 
destruction of the old system not being complete. We do 
not often see the two doctrines presented without modifica- 
tion. They so exist only in purely speculative minds. 
But when we see them in monstrous alliance, as we do in 
all degrees of existing political opinion, we cannot but 
know that such an alliance cannot yield any virtue which 
its elements do not contain, and that it can only exhibit 
their mutual neutralization. We must here, it is clear, 
regard the theological and the metaphysical polities sepa- 
rately, in the first place, that we may afterwards under- 
stand their present antagonism, and form an estimate of 
the futile combinations into which men have endeavoured 
to force them. 


Pernicious as the theological polity may ^. , , 
be in our day, no true philosopher will ever ^^.g^j polity, 
forget that it afforded the beneficent guar- 
dianship under which the formation and earliest develop- 
ment of modem societies took place. But it is equally 
incontestable that, for three centuries past, its influence 
among the most advanced nations has been essentially retro- 
grade, notwithstanding some partial services. We need 
not go into any discussion of its doctrine, in order to 
ascertain its powerlessness for future service: for it is 
plain that a polity that could not hold its ground before 
the natural progress of intelligence and of society can 
never again serve as a basis of social order. The historical 
analysis which I shall have to offer of the causes that have 
dissolved the Catholic and feudal system will show, better 
than any argument, how radical and irretrievable is the 
decay. The theological school explains the fact, as far as 
it can, by fortuitous and, we might almost say, personal 
causes : and, when they will no longer suffice, resorts to its 
common supposition, of a mysterious caprice of Providence 
which has allotted to social order a season of probation, of 
which no account can be given, either as to its date or its 
duration, or even its character. A contemplation of his- 
torical facts however shows that all the great successive 
modifications of the theological and military system have, 
from the beginning and increasingly, tended to the com- 
plete elimination of a regime which, by the fimdamental 
law of social evolution, could never be more than pro- 
visional, however indispensable. And if any efforts to 
restore the system could achieve a temporary success, they 
would not bring back society to a normal state, but would 
merely restore the very situation which compelled the 
revolutionary crisis, by obliging it to set about the work of 
destruction again, with more violence, because the regime 
has altogether ceased to be compatible with progress in the 
most essential respects. While avoiding all controversy on 
so plain a case, I must briefly present a new view which 
appears to me to point out the simplest and surest criterion 
of the value of any social doctrine, and which emphatically 
condemns the theological polity. 

Regarded from the logical point of view, the problem 


. of our social reorganization seems to me 

V^;!fr!?!L?i:«^ reducible to this one condition : to construct 
social doctnne. . „ Ti- i j x • - s j >n — n — rr— 

rationall y a political doctnne which, m the 

wh ole of its active development , shall be always fully co n- 
sequent on its own princip les. No existing doctrines 
approach to a fulfilment of this condition : all contain, as 
indispensable elements, numerous and direct contradic- 
tions on the greater number of important points. It may 
be laid down as a principle that the doctrine which fur- 
nishes accordant solutions on the various leading questions 
of polity, without failing in this one respect in the course 
of application, must, by this indirect test alone, be recog- 
nized as sufficiently adapted to reorganize society ; since 
this intellectual reorganization must mainly consist in re- 
establishing harmony in the troubled system of our social 
ideas. When such a regeneration shall have been accom- 
plished in an individual mind (and in that way it must 
begin), its generalization, sooner or later, is secure ; for the 
number of minds cannot increase the difficulty of the intel- 
lectual convergence, but only defer the success. We shall 
hereafter find how great is the superiority of the positive 
philosophy in this view ; because, once extended to social 
phenomena, it must connect the difEerent orders of human 
ideas more completely than could be done in any other way. 
Failure of the The accomplishment of this great logical 
theological condition might be expected from the theo- 
polity. logical polity above all others, because its 

doctrine is limited to co-ordinating a system so clearly de- 
fined by its long application, and so fully developed in all 
its essential parts, that it may well be supposed secure 
from all serious inconsistency. The retrograde school 
accordingly extols habitually, as its characteristic attribute, 
the perfect coherence of its ideas, in contrast with the con- 
tradictions of the revolutionary school. Yet, though the 
t heological polity is less inconsistent than the metaphysi cal, 
it shows a gaily increasing tendency to concessions oF the 
most radical importance, directly contrary to all it s essen- 
tial principles. This is evidence enough of the futility of "a 
doctrine which does not even possess the one quality most 
spontaneously correspondent to its nature. The old poli- 
tical system is seen to be destroyed as soon as its most de- 


voted adherents have lost the true general sentiment of it : 
and this may now be observed, not only in active practice, 
but among purely speculative minds of a high order, which 
are unconsciously modified by the irresistible influences of 
their age. If examples are desired, we need only bring the 
retrograde doctrine into comparison with the elements of 
modern civilization. There can be no doubt that the 
development of the sciences, of industry, and even of the 
fine arts, was historically the principal, though latent 
cause, in the first instance, of the irretrievable decline of 
the theological and military system. At present, it is the 
ascendancy of the scientific spirit which preserves us from 
any real restoration of the theological spirit ; as, again, the 
industrial spirit, in its perpetual extension, constitutes our 
best safeguard against any serious recurrence of the mili- 
tary or feudal spirit. Whatever may be the names given 
to our political struggles, this is the real character of our 
social antagonism. Now, amidst this state of things, do 
we hear of such a thing as any government, or even any 
school, seriously proposing a systematic repression of 
science, industry and art ? I)o not all powers (with an eccen- 
tric exception here and there) claim the honour of en- 
couraging their progress? Here we have the first incon- 
sistency of the retrograde polity, annulling its own project 
of a restoration of the past : and though the inconsistency 
is less apparent than some others, it must be regarded as 
the most decisive of all, because it is more universal and 
more instinctive than any other. Napoleon Bonaparte 
himself, the hero of retrogression in our time, set himself 
up, in all sincerity, as the protector of industry, art, and 
science. Purely speculative minds, though more easily 
separating themselves from any prevalent tendency, have 
escaped no better from the influence of their times. How 
many have been the attempts, for instance, for two cen- 
turies past, on the part of some of the most eminent minds, 
to subordinate reason to faith, according to the theological 
formula; reason itself being made the supreme judge of 
such a submission, and thus evidencing the contradictory 
character of the proposition ! The most eminent thinker of 
the Catholic school, the illustrious De Maistre, bore involun- 
tary testimony to the necessity of his time when he endea- 

II. L 


voured, in his principal work, to re-establish the papal 
supremacy on historical and political reasonings, instead of 
ordaining it by divine right, which is the only ground 
appropriate to such a doctrine, and the only ground he 
would have proposed in any age but one in which the 
general state of intelligence precluded such a plea. In- 
stances like these may spare us further illustration. 

As for more direct inconsistencies, more striking, though 
less profound, and comprehended within the present times, 
we see in every sect of the retrograde school a direct oppo- 
sition to some fundamental part of their common doctrine. 
Perhaps the only point on which there is now any unanimity 
in that school is in the consent to break up the very basis 
of the catholic and feudal system, by surrendering the divi- 
sion between the spiritual and temporal power ; or, what 
comes to the same thing, acquiescing in the subordination 
of the spiritual to the temporal authority. In this respect, 
the kings are showing themselves as revolutionary as their 
peoples ; and the priests have ratified their own degrrada- 
tion, in catholic countries no less than protestant. If their 
desire is to restore the old system, thtir first step must be 
to unite the innumerable sects which have sprung out of 
the decline of Christianity : but every attempt of the sort 
has failed through the blind and obstinate determination 
of the governments to retain the supreme direction of the 
theological power, the centralization of which they thus 
render impossible. Napoleon only showed an exaggerated 
copy, in his violent inconsistencies, of what many princes 
had done before him: and after his fall, when the sove- 
reigns of Europe united to set up a power in opposition to 
revolutionary tendencies, they usurped the attributes of the 
old spiritual authority, and exhibited the spectacle of a high 
council composed of heictic chiefs, and governed by a 
schismatic prince. After this, it was manifestly impossible 
to introduce the papal power into the alliance, in any way 
whatever. Such instances of the postponement of religious 
principles to temporal convenience are not new ; but they 
show how the main idea of the old political system has 
ceased to preponderate in the minds of the very persons 
who undertook to restore it. The divisions in the retro- 
grade school have been of late apparent under all circum- 


stances, whether of success or defeat. Any temporary 
success ought to rally all dissentients, in a school which 
boasts of the unity of its doctrine : yet, through a long 
course of years we have witnessed successive, and more and 
more serious schisms among the subdivisions of the trium- 
phant party. The advocates of Catholicism and those of 
feudality have quarrelled: and the latter have split into 
partisans of aristocracy and defenders of royalty. Under 
the completest restored supremacy, the schisms would only 
break out again, with more violence, through the incom- 
patibility of the existiug social state with the old political 
system. The vague assent to its general principles which 
is yielded in a speculative sense, must give way in their 
application ; and every practical development must engen- 
der further divisions : and this is the scientific description 
of any theory which is incompatible with the facts. 

When the retrograde party is reduced to the rank of an 
opposition, it has recourse to the principles of the revolutionary 
doctrine. This has been the case repeatedly during tlie 
last three centuries, when that party has been put upon the 
defensive. Thus we see the Catholics in England, and yet 
more in Ireland, asserting the claim of liberty of conscience, 
while still clamouring for the repression of Protestantism 
in France, Austria, and elsewhere. Again, when the sove- 
reigns of Europe invoked the aid of the peoples to pqt 
down Napoleon, they surrendered their retrograde doctrine, 
and testified to the power of the critical, as that which was 
really influencing civilized society, even though they were 
proposing, all the while, to effect the restoration of the 
ancient polity. We have seen something even more won- 
derful since that struggle. We have seen the retrograde 
party taking possession of the whole body of critical doc- 
trine, endeavouring to systematize it for its own uses, and 
sanctioning all its anarchical consequences ; trying to set 
up the catholic and feudal regime by the very means which 
have destroyed it ; and believing that a mere change in the 
person of the sovereign would intercept the consequences of 
a political movement which they had done nothing to 
modify.^ This is simply a new way of signing a political 

* This was written during the reign of Louis Philippe, and the 
administration of M. Guizot. 



^'^ abdication, however the ability of those who do it may be 
extolled. — We need not look further for illustrations of the 
pregnant fact that a polity which is the type of unity and 
permanence has been full of schisms, and now contains 
elements directly incompatible with its fundamental prin- 
ciples ; and that, as when we find De Maistre reproaching 
Bossuet with mistaking the nature of Catholicism, and then 
himself falling into inconsistencies, the party of Order is 
proposing to re-establish that which is not comprehended 
by its most illustrious defenders. 

The MetaDhv- burning n^w to the Metaphysical polity, 
sical polity. ^® must first observe and carefully remember 

that its doctriue, though exclusively critical, 
and therefore revolutionary, has still always had the virtue 
of being progressive, having, in fact, superintended the 
chief political progress accomplished during the last three 
centuries, which must be, in the first instance, essentially 
negative. What this doctrine had to do was to break up a 
system which, having directed the early growth of the 
human mind and society, tended to protract that infantile 
period : and thus, the political triumph of the metaphysical 
school was a necessary preparation for the advent of the 
positive school, for which the task is exclusively reserved of 
terminating the revolutionary period by the formation of a 
system uniting Order with Progress. Though the meta- 
physical system, considered by itself, presents a character 
of direct anarchy, an historical view of it, such as we shall 
take hereafter, shows that, considered in its origin, and in 
its antagonism to the old system, it constitutes a necessary 
provisional state, and must be dangerously active till the 
new political organization which is to succeed it is ready to 
put an end to its agitations. 

The passage from one social system to another can never 
be continuous and direct. There is always a transitional 
state of anarchy which lasts for some generations at least ; 
and lasts the longer the more complete is the renovation 
to be wrought. The best political progress that can be 
made during such a period is in gradually demolishing the 
former system, the foundations of which had been sapped 
before. While this inevitable process is going on, the 
elements of the new system are taking form as political 



iustitutlons, and tlie reorganization is stimulated by the 
experience of the evils of anarchy. There is another reason 
why the constitution of the new system cannot take place 
before the destruction of the old ; that without that de- 
struction no adequate conception could be formed of what 
must be done. Short as is our life, and feeble as is our 
reason, we cannot emancipate ourselves from the influenCyC 
of our environment. Even the wildest dreamers reflect in 
their dreams the contemporary social state: and much 
' more impossible is it to form a conception of a true 
political system, radically different from that amidst which 
we live. The highest order of minds cannot discern the 
characteristics of the coming period till they are close 
upon it; and before that, the incrustations of the old 
system will have been pretty much broken away, and the 
popular mind will have been used to the spectacle of its 
demolition. The strongest head of all antiquity is an 
example of this. Aristotle could not conceive of a state 
of society that was not founded on slavery, the irrevocable 
abolition of which took place some centuries after hira, — 
These considerations are illustrative of our own times, for 
which all former transition periods were merely a prepara- 
tion. Never before was the destined renovation so extensive 
and so thorough; and never before, therefore, was the 
critical preparatory period so protracted and so perilous. 
For the first time in the history of the world, the revo- 
lutionary action is attached to a complete doctrine of 
methodical negation of all regular government. Such 
being the origin of the existing critical doctrine, we can 
explain the services which that doctrine has hitherto ren- 
dered, and the obstacles which it now opposes to the reor- 
ganization of modem society. We shall see hereafter how 
each of its principal dogmas has sprung out of some corre- ><^ 
sponding decay in the old social order ; a decay which then 
proceeded all the faster for the opposition having become 
a dogma. The misfortune of the case lies in the doctrine 
which was thus necessarily relative to the old system 
coming by degrees to be supposed absolute : but we may 
leave it to those who desire it to blame the political con- 
duct of our fathers, without whose energetic perseverance 
we should not have found ourselves at our present stage of 



progress, or have been able to conceive of the better polity 
that is approaching. The absolute or metaphysical spirit 
was necessary to direct the formation of the critical and 
anti-theological doctrine, which needed all possible energy 
to overthrow the great ancient system ; and this energy 
oonld no otherwise be imparted to the dogmas of the 
critical philosophy. The necessity and the fact of the case 
are obvious enough : but not the less must we deplore the 
consequence, — that the energy imparted to the anarchical 
principle has gone on to impede the institution of the very 
political order for which it came to prepare the way. 
When, in the natural course of events, any doctrine has 
become hostile to the purposes it was destined to serve, it 
is evidently done with ; and its end, or the close of its 
activity, is near. We have seen that the retrograde or 
theological polity has become as disturbing as the meta- 
physical or revolutionary : if we find also that the latter, 
whose oflfice was to aid progress, has become obstructive, 
it is clear that both doctrines are worn out, and must 
soon be replaced by a new philosophy. — This condition 
of the metaphysical polity is a matter so serious that we 
must dwell upon it a little, to see how so provisional an 
influence can have produced the appearance of a new and 
stable svstem. 

The spirit of revolutionary polity is to erect into a per- 

"^ manency the temporary action which it prompts. For 

instance, being in antagonism with ancient order, its ten- 

n , dency is to represent all government as being 

structive. *^® enemy of society, and the duty of society 

to be to keep up a perpetual suspicion and 
vigilance, restricting the activity of government more and 
more, in order to guard against its encroachments, so as to 
reduce it at length to mere functions of police, in no way 
participating in the supreme direction of collective action 
and social development. This was the inevitable action 
by whiih the social evolution was brought about: and it 
ia our misfortune that it now remains as an obstacle to 
the reorganization that we need. As the process could 
not but occupy several centuries, the power that wrought 
it must needs be invested with something definitive and: 
absolute in the popular view, which cannot look far beyond 


the present : and it was well that it was so ; for the old 
system could not have been deprived of its directing 
powers, if they had not been stripped off from the govern- 
ments, and assumed by the polity which had arisen to 
supersede them. 

Eegarding the doctrine in a more special Dogma of 
view, it is clear that its most important liberty of 
principle is the right of free inquiry, or the conscience, 
dogma of unbounded liberty of conscience ; involving the 
immediate consequences of the liberty of the press, or of 
any other mode of expression, and of communication of 
opinions. This is the raUying-point of the revolutionary 
doctrine, to which all orders of minds have come up, — the 
proud and the humble, the wise and the weak, — those 
whose other opinions were compatible with this dogma, 
and those who unconsciously held views of an opposite 
order. The impulse of this emancipation was irresistible ; 
and the revolutionary contagion was, in this one respect, 
universal. It is a chief characteristic of the mind of 
society in this century. The most zealous partisans of the 
theological polity are as apt as their adversaries to judge 
by their personal knowledge; and those who, in their 
writings, set up as defenders of spiritual government, 
recognize, like the revolutionists whom they attack, no 
other supreme authority than tha.t of their own reason. 
Now if we look at what is the real meaning of this dogma 
of the universal and absolute right of inquirj', we shall 
find that it is the mere abstract expression (such as is 
common in metaphysics) of tHe temporary state of un- 
bounded liberty in which the human mind was left by the 
decay of the theological philosophy, and which must last 
till the social advent of the positive philosophy. Such an 
embodiment of the fact of the absence of intellectual regu- 
lation powerfully concurred in expediting the dissolution 
of the old system. The formula could not but appear 
absolute at the time, because no one could foresee the 
scope of the transitional state which it marked ; a state 
which is even now mistaken by many enlightened minds 
for a definitive one. Negative as we now see this dogma 
to be, signifying release from old authority while waiting 
for the necessity of positive science, (a necessity which 


4 already puts liberty of conscience out of the question in 

astrononiy and" physics, etc.,) the absolute character sup- 
]>08eJ to reside 'lii it gave it energy to fulfil its revolu- 
tionary destination; enabled philosophers to explore the 
principles of a new organization ; and, by admitting the 
right of all to a similar research, encouraged the discus- 
sion which must precede and effect the triumph of those 
/ principles. Whenever those principles shall have become 
! established, the right of free inquiry will abide within its 
natural and permanent limits: that is, men will discuss, 
under appropriate intellectual conditions, the real connec- 
tion of various consequences with fundamental rules uni- 
formly respected. Till then, the opinions which will 
hereafter bring understandings into submission to an exact 
continuous discipline by embodying the principles of the 
new social order can appear only as simple individual 
thoughts, produced in virtue of the right of free inquiry ; 
since their final supremacy can result in no other way than 
from the voluntary assent of numbers, after the freest dis- 
cussion. I shall enter further into this subject hereafter : 
and what I have said will, I hope, prevent any one being 
shocked by my general appreciation of the revolutionary 
dogma of free inquiry; as it is plain that without it this 
book would never have been written. 

Indispensable and salutary as it has been, this dogma 
can never be an organic principle : and, moreover, it con- 
stitutes an obstacle to reorganization, now that its activity 
is no longer absorbed by the demolition of the old political 
order. In any case, private or public, the state of inquiry 
can evidently be only provisional, indicating the condition 
of mind which precedes and prepares for a final decision, 
towards which our reason is always tending, even when it 
is renouncing old principles, in order to form new ones. 
It is taking the exception for the rule when we set up, as 
a natural and permanent state, the precarious situation 
which belongs to the period of transition ; and we ignore 
^ the deepest necessities of human reason when we would 
protract that scepticism which is produced by the passage 
from one mode of belief to another, and which is, in our 
need of fixed points of conviction, a kind of morbid per- 
turbation which cannot be prolonged beyond the correspond- 


ing crisis without serious danger. To be always examining 
and never deciding would be regarded as something like 
madness in private conduct : and no dogmatic consecration 
of such conduct in all individuals could constitute any 
perfection of social order, with regard to ideas which it is 
much more essential, and much more difficult to establish 
beyond the reach of dispute. There are very few persons 
who consider themselves fit to sit in judgment on the 
astronomical, physical, and chemical ideas which are des- 
tined to enter into social circulation; and everybody is 
willing that those ideas should direct corresponding opera- 
tions; and here we see the beginnings of intellectual 
government. Can it be supposed that the most important 
and the most delicate conceptions, and those which by their 
complexity are accessible to only a small number of highly- 
prepared understandings, are to be abandoned ^o the arbi- 
trary and variable decisions of the least corapetipnt minds ? 
If such an anomaly could be imagined permanei^t, a disso- 
lution of the social state must ensue, through \the ever- 
growing divergence of individual understandings, delivered 
over to their disorderly natural impulses in the most vague 
and easily perverted of all orders of ideas. The speculative 
inertia common to most minds, and perhaps, to a certain 
extent, the wise reserve of popular good sense, tend, no 
doubt, to restrict such political aberrations : but these are 
influences too feeble to root out the pretension of every 
man to set himself up as a sovereign arbiter of social 
theories ; — a pretension which every intelligent man blames 
in others, with a reservation, more or less explicit, of his 
own personal competency. Now the intellectual reor- 
ganization cannot proceed amidst such a state of things, 
because the convergence of minds requires the renuncia- 
tion by the greater number of their right of individual 
inquiry on subjects above their qualifications, and re- 
quiring, more than any others, a real and permanent 
agreement. Then again, the unbridled ambition of ill- 
prepared intellects rushes in among the most complex and 
obscure questions: and these disturbances, though they 
must finally neutralize each other, make terrible devas- 
tation in the interval ; and each one that is destroyed 
makes way for another; so that the issue of these con- 


troversies is a perpetual aggravation of the intellectual 

No association whatever, even of the smallest number of 
individuals, and for the most temporary objects, can sub- 
sist without a certain degree of reciprocal confidence, intel- 
lectual and moral, among its members, each one of whom 
has incessantly to act upon views which he must admit on 
the faith of some one else. If it is so in this limited case, 
there is something monstrous in proposing the opposite 
procedure in the case of the whole human race, each one of 
whom is at an extreme distance from the collective point 
of view, and is the last person of the whole number fit to 
judge of the rules by which his personal action should be 
directed. Be the intellectual development of each and all 
what it may, social order must ever be incompatible with a 
perpetual discussion of the foundations of society. Sys- 
tematic toleration can exist only with regard to opinions 
which are considered indifferent or doubtful, as we see in 
that aspect of the revolutionary spirit which takes its stand 
on Protestantism, where the innumerable Christian sects 
are too weak to pretend to spiritual dominion, but where 
there is as fierce an intolerance about any common point of 
doctrine or discipline as in the Romish Church itself. And 
when the critical doctrine was, at the beginning of the 
French Revolution, supposed to be organic, we know how 
the directors of the movement strove to obtain a general 
assent, volimtary or forced, to the dogmas of the revolu- 
tionary philosophy, which they regarded as the bases of 
social order, and therefore above controversy. We shall see 
hereafter what are the due limits of the right of free 
inquiry, in a general way, and in regard to our own social 
period. It is enough to observe here that political good 
sense has adopted, to express the first requisite of all 
organization, that fine axiom of the Catholic Church ; in 
necessary things, unity : in doubtful things, liberty : in all 
things, charity : — a maxim which admirably proposes the 
problem, without, however, suggesting the principles by 
which it must be solved, and that unitv attained which 
would be a mere illusion if it did not result, in the first 
instance, from free discussion. 

The dogma which ranks next in importance to that of 


free inquiry is that of Equality ; and in the -J 

same way, it is taken to be absolute when Equalitv. 

it is only relative, and permanent, while it 
expresses merely the position of minds employed in break- 
ing up the old system. It is an immediate consequence 
of liberty of conscience, which brings after it the most 
fundamental equality of all, — that of intelligence. The 
supposition of its being absolute was not less necessary in 
this case than the former : for, if all social classification 
had not been systematically disallowed, the old corpora- 
tions would have preserved their sway, from the impossi- 
bility of their conceiving of any other classification. To 
this day we have no sufficiently distinct notion ourselves of 
such an arrangement as would be truly appropriate to a 
new state of civilization. When the dogma of equality had 
achieved the overthrow of the old polities, it could not but 
become an obstacle to any reorganization, because its 
activity must then be directed against the bases of any new 
classification whatever ; for, of course, any classification 
must be incompatible with the equality that was claimed 
for all. Since the abolition of slavery, there has been no 
denial, from any quarter, of the right of every man (inno- 
cent of strong anti-social conduct) to expect from all others 
the fulfilment of the conditions necessary to the natural 
development of his personal activity, suitably directed : but 
beyond that undisputed right, men cannot be made, be- 
cause they are not, equal, nor even equivalent ; and they 
cannot therefore possess, in a state of association, any 
identical rights beyond the great original one. The simple • 
physical inequalities which fix the attention of superficial 
observers are much less marked than intellectual and 
moral differences ; and the progress of civilization tends to 
increase these more important differences, as much as to 
lessen the inferior kind : and, applied to any assemblage 
of persons thus developed, the dogma of equality becomes; 
anarchical, and directly hostile to its original destination. 

The second result of the dogma of liberty Dogma of the 4 

of conscience is the Sovereignty of the Sovereignty of 
people : and, like the former, it wrought at *^^® People, 
first the double service of destroying the old regime and 
preparing for a new one. Till the final system could be; 


troDstituted, the only safej^uard a^aitiBt the rcnowed Buprc- 
inacy of the old one wag in the setting up of provisional 
institutiouB, which the peoples claimed the absolute right 
U) change at will It was only by means of the doctrine 
of i>opular sovereignty that that succession of political 
endeavours could tuke place which must precede the in- 
stallation of a true system of government, whenever the 
intellectual renovation of society shall be sufficiently 
advanced to settle the conditions and natural extent of the 
<lifterent sovereignties. Meanwhile, in discharging its func- 
tion, this dogma proves its revolutionary character before 
our eyes, by opposing all reorganization, condemning, as it 
does, all the superior to an arbitrary dependence on the 
. multitude of the inferior, by a kind of transference to the 
peoples of the divine right which had become the oppro- 
brium of kings. 

Do^inaof Na- The revolutionary spirit of the critical 
tional Inde- doctrine manifests itself no less clearly when 
pendence. -^q \qq]^ a^ international relations. The 

necessity of order being in this case more equivocal and 
obscure, the absence of all regulating power has been 
more ingenuously declared than in other cases. When the 
ancient spiritual power was politically annulled, the disso- 
lution of Euroi)ean order followed spontaneously from the 
principle of liberty of conscience; and the most natural 
papal function was at an end. Till the new social organiza- 
tion shall show us the law by which the nations shall be- 
come once more connected, the metaphysical notions of 
national isolation, and therefore of mutual non-interven- 
tion, must prevail ; and they will be regarded as absolut<i 
till it appears how they defeat their own end. As all 
attempts at European co-ordination must otherwise ha 
directed by the ancient system, we owe to the doctrine of 
national independence our rescue from the monstrous 
aiTangement of the most civilized nations l>eing politically 
sul>ordinated to the least advanced, because the latter were 
least changed from their ancient state, and would be sure 
therefore to be placed at the head of such an association. 
But, if such a doctrine were more than provisional, thti 
nations would sink below their state in the Middle Ages ; 
and at the very time when they are marked out, by an ever- 


growing resemblance, for an association more extensive, 
and, at the same time more regular, than that which was 
proposed by the old catholic and feudal system. It is 
clear that when the dogma of national isolation has ful- 
filled its function of separating the nations, in order to a 
preparation for a new union, its further action must be as 
purely anarchical as that of its predecessors. 

A brief notice of the logical inconsistency of the revolu- 
tionary doctrine will conclude our preliminary review of it. 

This inconsistency is more radical and inconsistency 
more manifest than in the case of the retro- of the Meta-* 
grade or theological doctrine ; but it does physical doc- 
not imply so utter a condemnation ; not only ^"'^®- 
on account of its recent formation, but because such a vice 
does not prevent its fulfilling its critical office. Notwith- 
standing profound differences, the adversaries of the old 
polity found no difficulty in imiting for successive partial 
demolitions about which they were agreed, postponing till 
their period of success their contests about the ulterior 
developments of their doctrine ; a course which would bo 
impossible in the case of any organic operation, in which 
each part must be considered in its relation to the whole. 
Thus far only, however, can the inconsistency be tolerated. 
When once the whole of anv doctrine becomes hostile to 
its original purposes, it is condemned : and this is true of 
the metaphysical doctrine, which at once opposes the pro- 
gress it professed to aid, and sustains the foundations of 
the political system it proposed to destroy. 

Its culminating point was at the most marked period of 
the first French Ke volution, when it was, by an imavoidable 
illusion, taken to be the principle of social reorganization. 
It was then seen in its best aspect of consistency and y 
power ; and then it was that, the ancient system being dis- \ 
posed of, its vices became apparent. It showed itself 
hostile to all social reorganization, and became actually 
retrograde in its character by setting itself up in violent 
opposition to the movement of modem civilization. For 
one illustration, look at the strange meta- Notion of a 
physical notion of a supposed state of nature, state of Na- 
which was to be the primitive and invariable *^**®- 
type of every social state. This doctrine is not to be attri- 


buted to Eousseau alone. It is that of all philosophers, in 
all times and countries, who have unconsciously concurred 
in developing the revolutionary metaphysical doctrine 
which Eousseau, by his urgent dialectics, only pushed to 
its real conclusions. His doctrine, which represents a state 
of civiUzation as an ever-growing degeneracy from the 
primitive ideal type, is common to all modem metaphy- 
sicians ; and we shall see hereafter that it is only the 
metaphysical form of the theological dogma of the degrada- 
tion of the human race by original sin. According to such 
a principle, all' political reformation must be regarded as 
destined to re-establish that primitive state : and what 
is that but organizing a universal retrogradation, though 
with progressive intentions? The applications of this 
doctrine have been in conformity to its philosophical con- 
stitution. When it was necessary to replace the feudal 
and catholic regime, men did not fix their contemplation on 
the social future, but summoned up their imperfect remem- 
brances of a very distant past, trying to substitute for a 
decrepit system a more ancient and decrepit system still, 
but, for that very reason, nearer to the primitive type. 
Instead of a worn-out Catholicism, they proposed a sort of 
metaphysical polytheism, at the same time that, in polity, 
they desired to replace the Middle Age system by the 
radically inferior regime of the Greeks and Romans. The 
very elements of modern civilization, the only possible 
germs of a new social state, were endangered by barbaric 
condemnation of the industrial and artistic advancement 
of modern society, in the name of primitive virtue and sim- 
plicity. Even the scientific spirit, which is the only principle 
of intellectual organization, was stigmatized as tending to 
institute an aristocracy of knowledge which was as incom- 
patible as any other aristocracy with the original equality 
that was to be set up again. Lavoisier was the martyr of 
this state of opinion ; and it is his case that will illustrate 
the period to our remotest posterity. It is useless for the 
metaphysical school to represent such results as portentous 
or eccentric incidents. Their legitimate descent from the 
revolutionary polity is evident and certain ; and we should 
witness a repetition of them if it were possible (which it is 
not) for this polity to become prevalent again. The ten- 


dency to social retrogradation, under the idea of returning 
to the primitive state, so thoroughly belongs to the meta- 
physical polity, that the new sects wlio, in their brief day, 
have most haughtily censured the revolutionary imitation 
of G-reek and Boman types, have unconsciously reproduced 
the same error in a far more marked way by striving to re- 
establish the confusion between the temporal and spiritual 
power, and extolling, as the highest social perfection, a 
return to the Egyptian or Hebrew theocracy, founded on 
fetichism, disguised under the name of pantheism. 

As the metaphysical doctrine was the issue a^i • 
of the theological, and destined to modify it, ^^^^ worn-out. 
it was a matt 'r of course that it should vindi- 
cate the general foundations of the old system, even after 
having destroyed its chief conditions of existence. Every 
reformer, for three centuries past, while urging the develop- 
ment of the critical spirit further than his predecessors, 
assumed to set immutable bounds to it ; deriving his limita- 
tions from the old system. All the absolute rights pro- 
claimed as the basis of the new doctrine were guaranteed 
by a sort of religious consecration, in the last resort ; and 
this was indispensable, if their efficacy was not to be im- 
paired by continual discui§"sion. It was always with an in- 
vocation of the principles of the old polity on their lips 
that the reformers proceeded to demolish the spiritual and 
temporal institutions in which they were embodied; and 
the whole regime fell through the conflict of its chief 
elements. Hence there arose, in the intellectual region, a 
Christianity more and more attenuated or simplified, and 
reduced at last to that vague and impotent theism which, 
by a monstrous conjunction of terms, metaphysicians have 
entitled Natural Religion, as if all religion were not neces- 
sarily supernatural. The pretension to direct a social re- 
organization by this strange conception is merely a recur- 
rence to the old principle that social order must rest on a 
theological basis. This is now the most fatal inconsistency 
of the revolutionary school ; and while anned with such a 
concession, the advocates of Catholicism will always have 
an incontestable lojjical superiority over the irrational de- 
famers of the old faith, who proclaim the need of a religious 
organization, and yet disallow all the necessary conditions. 


It in clear that society would be condemued to a perpetuity 
of the intellectual anarchy which characterizes it at present 
if it were t.o be for ever made up of minds which admit 
the want of a theological regime on the one hand, while, on 
the other, they reject its principal conditions of existence ; 
and those who thus acknowledge themselves incapable have 
no right to discredit the only rational way to reorganization 
which remains open, and by which every other order of 
human conceptions has been happily retrieved and estab- 
lished. The social application of the positive philosophy 
remains as the resource, and the only resource, after the 
failure of both the preceding systems. 

In its temporal application the inconsis- 
war"*^^^"^^ tency of the metaphysical doctrine is as con- 
spicuous as in the spiritual. It strives to 
preserve, if not the feudal, at least the military spirit, in 
which the feudal had its origin. The French nation did, it 
is true, in their revolutionary enthusiasm, proscribe war from 
that time forward : but when the armed coalition of the 
retrograde forces of Europe brought out an immeuFC 
amount of energy for self-defence, for the sake of the pro- 
gressive movement, the sentiment, which was grounded on 
no j>rinciple, soon disappeared, and France was distin- 
guished by the most conspicuous military activity, invested 
with its most oppressive characteristics. The military 
spirit is in fact so congenial with the critical doctrine that 
any pretext will serve for its indulgence : as for instance, 
when it is proposed to regulate by war the action of the 
more advanced nations upon the less advanced. The true 
logical consequence of this would be a universal uproar ; 
but, happily, the nature of modern civilization saves us 
from danger. The tendency of the critical rrgime in this 
respect is shown by the perpetual endeavours of the various 
sections of the revolutionary school to reinstate the memory 
of the man who, of all others, strove for political retro- 
gradation, by wasting an enormous amount of power in 
the restoration of the military and theological system. 
Vrinciplo of Before quitting the subject of the incon- 

I'olitical Cen- sistencies of this school, I must, in justice, 
tralization. point out one more contradiction which, as 
Iwing of a progressive character, is honourable to those 


most advanced miuds wliich entertain it, and which alone 
understand its necessity, opposed as it is to the dogmas of 
independence and isolation which constitute the spirit of 
the critical school. I refer to the principle of political 
centrahzation. The two parties seem here to have changed 
sides. The retrograde doctrine, notwithstanding its proud 
pretensions to order and unity, preaches the distribution 
of political centres, in the secret hope of preserving the 
old system yet a while longer among the most backward of 
the populations, by keeping them aloof from the general 
centres of civihzation ; while the revolutionary poficy, on 
the other hand, proud of having withstood, in France, the 
coalition of the old powers, discards its own maxims to 
recommend the subordination of the secondary to the 
principal centres by which such a noble stand has already 
been made, and which must become a most valuable 
auxiliary of reorganization. Thus alone can the reorganiza- 
tion be, in the first place, restricted to a choice population. 
In brief, the revolutionary school alone has understood 
that the increasing anarchy of the time, intellectual and 
moral, requires, to prevent a complete dislocation of society, 
a growing concentration of political action, properly so 

Thus, after three centuries, employed in the necessary 
demolition of the ancient regime, the critical doctrine shows 
itself as incapable of other application, and as inconsistent 
as we have now seen it to be. It is no more fit to secure 
Progress, than the old doctrine to maintain Order. But> 
feeble as they are apart, they actually sustain each other 
by their very antagonism. It is universally understood 
that neither can ever again achieve a permanent triumph ; 
but, so strong is the apprehension of even the temporary 
preponderance of either, that the general mind, for want 
of a more rational point of support, employs each doctrine 
in turn to restrain the encroachments of the other. This 
miserable oscillation of our social life must proceed till a 
real doctrine, as truly organic as progressive, shall reconcile 
for us the two aspects of the great political problem. 
Then, at last, the two opposite doctrines will disappear for 
ever in the new conception that will be seen to be com- 
pletely adapted to fulfil the destination of both. Often has 

II. M 


each party, blinded by some temporary success, believed 
that it had annihilated the other ; and never has the event 
failed to moct the ignorant exultation. The critical doctrine 
seemed to have humbled for ever the catholic-feudal school ; 
but that school arose again. Napoleon thought he had 
accomplished a retrograde reaction ; but the very energy of 
his efforts caused a reaction in favour of revolutionarv 
principles. And thus society continues to vibrate between 
conflicting influences ; and those influences continue to 
exist only by their mutual neutralization. For that purpose 
only, indeed, are they now ever applied. Neither could be 
spared before the advent of the state which is to succeed 
them. Without the one, we should lose the sentiment of 
Order, and without the other, that of Progress : and the 
keeping alive this sentiment, on either hand, is the only 
practical efficacy which now remains to them. Feeble 
as the conception must be, in the absence of any principle 
which unites the two requisites, it is preserved by the pre- 
sence of the two decaying systems ; and they keep before 
the minds of both philosophers and the public the true 
conditions of social reorganization, which otherwise our 
feeble nature might misconceive or lose sight of. Having 
the two types before us, we see the solution of the great 
problem to be, to form a doctrine which shall be more 
organic than the theological, and more progressive than 
the metaphysical. 

The old political system can be no pattern for a rrgime 
suitable to a widelv different civilization ; but we are not 
under the less obligation to study it, in order to learn what 
are the essential attributes of all social organization, which 
must reappear in an improved state in the future. The 
general conception of the theological and military system 
even seems to me to have passed too much out of sight. 
And, as to the Critical system, there can be no question of 
its affording, by its progressive character, and its exposure 
of the preceding regime, a most valuable stimulus to society 
to seek for something better than mere modifications of 
systems that have failed. The common complaint that it 
renders all government impossible, is a mere avowal of 
impotence on the part of those who utter it. Whatever 
are its imperfections, it fulfilled for a time one of the two 


requisites: its abolition would in no way assist the re- 
establishment of Order ; and no declamations against the 
revolutionary philosophy will affect the instinctive attach- 
ment of society to principles which have directed its political 
progress for three centuries past, and which are believed 
to represent the indispensable conditions of its future 
development. Each of its dogmas affords an indication 
of how the improvement is to be effected. Each expresses 
the political aspect of certain high moral obligations which 
the retrograde school, with all its pretensions, was com- 
])elled to ignore, because its system had lost all power to 
fulfil them. In this way, the dogma of Free Inquiry 
decides that the spiritual reorganization must result from 
purely intellectual action, providing for a final voluntary 
and unanimous assent, without the disturbing intervention 
of any heterogeneous power. Again, the dogmas of 
Equality and the Sovereignty of the people devolve on the 
new powers and classes of society the duty of a public- 
spirited social conduct, instead of working the many for the 
interests of the few. The old system practised these mo- 
ralities in its best days ; but they are now maintained only 
by the revolutionary doctrine, which it would be fatal to 
part with till we have some substitute in these particular 
respects ; for the effect would be that we should be delivered 
over to the dark despotism of the old system ; — to the re- 
storers of religions, for instance, who, if proselytism failed, 
would have recourse to tyranny to compel unity, if once 
the principle of free inquiry were lost from among us. 

It is useless to declaim against the critical philosophy, 
and to deplore, in the name of social order, the dissolving 
energy of the spirit of analysis and inquiry. It is only by 
their use that we can obtain materials for reorganization ; 
materials which shall have been thoroughly tested by free 
discussion, carried on till general conviction is secured. 
The philosophy which will arise out of this satisfaction of 
the public reason will then assign the rational limits which 
must obviate the abuse of the analytical spirit, by establish- 
ing that distinction in social matters, between the field of 
reasoning and that of pure observation, which we have 
found already marked out in regard to every other kind of 


Though consigned, by the course of events, to a negative 
doctrine for awhile, society has never renounced the laws 
of human reason : and when the proper time arrives, society 
will use the rights of this reason to organize itself anew, 
on principles which will then have been ascertained and 
estimated. The existing state of no-government seems 
necessary at present, in order to that ascertainment of 
principles ; but it does not at all follow, as some eccentric 
individuals seem to think, that the right of inquiry imposes 
the duty of never deciding. The prolonged indecision 
proves merely that the principles which are to close the 
deliberation are not yet sufficiently established. In the 
same way, because society claims the right of choosing and 
varying its institutions and governing powers, it by no 
means follows that the right is for ever to be used in 
choosing and varying, when its indefinite use shall have 
become injurious. When the right conditions shall have 
been ascertained, society will submit its choice to the rules 
which will secure its efficacy ; and in the interval, nothing 
can be more favourable to future order than that the 
political course should be kept open, to admit of the free 
rise of the new social system. As it happens, the peoples 
have, thus far, erred on the side of too hasty a desire for 
reorganization, and a too generous confidence in every 
promise of social order, instead of having shown the sys- 
tematic distrust attributed to the revolutionary doctrine by 
those whose worn-out claims will not bear discussion. There 
is more promise of political reorganization in the revolu- 
tionary doctrine than in the retrograde, though it is the 
supreme claim of the latter to be the safeguard of social 

Th ^t f Such is the vicious circle in which we are 

dod;rine.^^°*'^ ^^ present confined. We have seen what is 

the antagonism of two doctrines that are 
powerless apart, and have no operation but in neutralizing 
each other. They have lost their activity as preponderating 
influences, and are seen now in the form of political debate, 
which they daily direct by the one furnishing all the essen- 
tial ideas of government, and the other the principles of 
opposition. At shorter and shorter intervals, a partial and 
transient superiority is allowed to the one or the other. 


when its antagonist threatens danger. Out of these oscil- 
lations a third opinion has arisen, which is constructed out 
of their ruins, and takes its station between them. I ^. 

suppose we must give the name of Doctrine to this inter- \ 

mediate opinion, bastard and inconsistent as is its character ; 
for it is presented by very earnest doctors, who urge it 
upon us as a type of the final political philosophy. We 
must call it the Stationary Doctrine; and we see it, in 
virtue of that quality, occupying the scene of politics, among 
the most advanced people, for above a quarter of a century. 
Essentially provisional as it is, the Stationary school 
naturally serves as a guide to society in preserving the 
material order, without which a true doctrine could not 
have its free growth. It may be necessary for our weak- 
ness that the leaders of this school should suppose that 
they have a doctrine which is destined to triumph ; but 
whatever benefits arise from their action are much impaired 
by the mistake of supposing our miserable transition state 
a permanent type of the social condition. The stationary 
polity not only contains inconsistencies, but it is itself 
inconsistency erected into a principle. It acknowledges 
the essential principles of the other systems, but prevents 
their action. Disdainful of Utopias, it proposes the wildest 
of them all ; —that of fixing society for ever in a contra- 
dictory position between retrogradation and regeneration. 
The theory serves to keep in check the other two philo- 
sophies ; and this may be a good : but, on the other hand, 
it helps to keep them alive ; and it is, in so far, an obstacle 
to reorganization. When I present my historical review of 
society, I shall explain the special assemblage of social 
conditions which gave England her parliamentary monarchy, 
so lauded by the school of mixed doctrine, but in fact, an 
exceptional institution, whose inevitable end cannot be 
very far off. When we enter upon that analysis, we shall 
see how great is the. error of philosophers and statesmen 
when they have taken up a singular and transient case as 
the solution of the revolutionary crisis of modem societies, 
and have endeavoured to transplant on the European con*- 
tinent a purely local system, which would be deprived in 
the process of its very roots : for it is an organized Protes- 
tantism which is its main spiritual basis in England. The 


expectation attached to this single specious aspect of the 
stationary doctrine will make a future examination of it 
important ; and we shall then see how hopeless is the con- 
1 stitutional metaphysics of the balance of powers, judged 

by that instance whi<:h serves as the common ground of 
such social fictions After all the vast efforts made to 
nationalize elsewheie the stationary compromise, it has 
never succeeded anywhere but in its native land ; and this 
proves its powerlessness in regard to the great social pro- 
blem. The only possible result is that the mischief should 
pass from the acute to the chronic state, becoming in- 
curable by the recognition as a principle of the transient 
antagonism which is its chief symptom. Its principal 
merit is that it admits the double aspect of the social 
problem, and the necessity of reconciling Order and Pro- 
gress : but it introduces no new idea ; and its recognition 
amounts therefore to nothing more than an equal sacrifice, 
when necessary, of the one and the other. The order that 
it protects is a merely material order ; and it therefore 
fails in that function precisely in crises when it is most 
wanted. On the other hand, this function continues to he 
attriT)uted to royalty, which is the only power of the old 
polity that is still active : now, the balance which is insti- 
tuted by the stationary doctrine surrounds the royal power 
with l)onds that are always tightening, while declaring that 
royal power to be the chief basis of the government. It is 
only a question of time when the function of sovereignty, 
thus embarrassed, shall cease, and the pretended balance 
be destroyed. This parliamentary i)olity serves the cause 
of progress no belter than that of order : for, as it proposes 
no new principle, the restraints which it puts upon the 
revolutionary spirit are all derived from the ancient system, 
and therefore tend to become more and more retrograde 
and oppressive. An example of this is, the restrictions 
on the right of election ; restrictions always derived from 
irrational material conditions, which, being arbitrary in 
their character, oppress and irritate, without answering 
their proposed purpose, and leave the multitude of the 
excluded much more offended than the small number of 
the privileged are gratified. 

There is no need to say more in this place of the mixed 


or Stationary doctrine, which is, in fact, only a last phase 
of the metaphysical polity. The reader cannot but see 
that a theory so precarious and subaltern, so far from 
being able to reorganize modern society, can only regulate, 
by protracting, the political conflict, and discharge the 
negative office of preventing kings from retrograding and 
peoples from destroying. Whatever the value of this 
service may be, we cannot expect regeneration to be accom- 
plished by means of impediments. 

We have now seen the worth of these ^ - , 

three systems. To complete our conviction ciitical^period^ 
of the need of a better, we must briefly 
notice the chief social dangers which result from the de- 
plorable protraction of such an intellectual condition, and 
which must, from their nature, be aggravated from day to 
day. The dangers are imputable to all the three systems ; 
though the revolutionary and stationary systems assume 
that the blame of our disorders rests with the retrograde 
school : but they are certainly no less guilty ; for, power- 
less to discover the remedy, they protract the mischief, and 
embarrass the treatment. Aid again, the discordance 
between the movements of governments and of their 
peoples is to be attributed quite as much to the hostile 
spirit of the directing power as to the anarchical tendency 
of popular opinions. The social perturbations, the aspect 
of which we are about to examine, proceed no less from 
the kings than from their peoples, with this aggravated 
disgrace, — that it seems as if the solution ought to 
emanate from the kings. 

The first, the most fatal, and the most Intellectual 
universal consequence of this situation is the anarchy, 
alarming and ever-widening extent of the intellectual 
anarchy which all acknowledge, however they may differ 
about its cause and termination. This evil is charged 
almost exclusively on the revolutionary philosophy ; and 
that school too readily admits the charge. But, as we 
have seen, that doctrine does not prohibit decision, when 
the requisite grounds are ascertained: and it is the 
stationary theory that ought to bear the blame of the 
absence of those grounds: and yet more the retrograde, 
which is chargeable with urging the restoration of the 



same worn-out principles which, by their decrepitude, have 
caused all this an arch v. The stationary school does not 
want to hear of any such principles, and interdicts them ; 
and the retrograde school insists that the old ones will do 
over again. So that, if the revolutionary school first en- 
couraged the anarchy, the other two protract it. 

Of all questions, there are none which have so much 
claim as social problems to be consigned to a small number 
of choice minds which shall have been prepared by a high 
order of discipline and instruction for the investigation 
of questions so complex and so mixed up with human 
passions. Such is, at least, the natural state of the human 
mind, in contrast with which its condition in revolutionary 
periods may be regarded as, in a manner, pathological, 
however inevitable. The social malady must be very serious 
when we see all manner of persons, however inferior their 
intelligence, and however unprepared, stimulated, in the 
highest manner, and from day to day, to cut the knot of 
the most intricate political questions, without any guidance 
or restraint. The wonder is, not that the divergence of 
opinion is what it is, but that any points of agreement at 
all are left amidst all this dissolution of social maxims. 
The evil has reached such a point that all political opinions, 
though of course derived from one of the three schools, 
differ through so many degrees as to become individual ; — 
through all degrees, in fact, that the combination of three 
orders of vicious principles admits of. Except on occa- 
sion of emergency, where there is a temporary coalition 
(amidst which each one usually hopes to have his own way) 
it becomes more and more diflBcult to make even a very 
small number of minds adhere to a plain and explicit pro- 
fession of political faith. This inability to co-operate pre- 
vails in all the three camps, — as we ought carefully to 
observe: and each party has often, in its ingenuous 
moments, bitterly deplored the intense disagreement 
with which it supposed itself to be especially afflicted; 
whereas, the others were no better organized ; and the 
chief difference in the three cases was that each was most 
acutely sensible of its own misery. 

In countries where this intellectual anarchy has been 
sanctioned by the political preponderance of Protestantism, 


the divergences have been more multiplied than elsewhere, 
without being less serious. It could not but be so from 
the tendency of the general mind, in its then infantile 
state, to use its new emancipation to plunge into the 
indefinite discussion of religious opinions — (the most 
vague and discordant of all), — in the absence of a restrain- 
ing spiritual authority. In the United States, for instance, 
there are hundreds of Christian sects, radically discordant, 
and incessantly parting off into opinions which are really 
little more than individual, which it is impossible to 
classify, and which are really becoming implicated with 
innumerable political differences. The nations which, like 
the French, have escaped the treacherous stage of Protes- 
tantism, and have passed at once from the Catholic to the 
fully revolutionary state, were not, on that account, entirely 
exempt from the intellectual anarchy inherent in any pro- 
longed exercise of the absolute right of free individual 
inquiry. All that can be said is that their aberrations, 
without being less anti-social, have a less vague character, 
and are less in the way of the final reorganization. They 
arise, take possession for awhile of even healthy and 
well-trained intellects, and then give place to others that 
have their day, and in their turn are superseded. In our 
time, we hear of proposals, entertained here and there 
even by men who know what positive science is in some 
one department of study, which it is a shock to one's hopes 
to see so advocated; proposals, for instance, to abolish 
money and recur to a state of barter ; to destroy the great 
capitals in order to restore rural innocence; to have a 
fixed rate of wages, and the same rate for every kind of 
labour, and so forth. Such opinions are daily given out, 
side by side with those which are the most philosophical 
and the most carefully elaborated; and none have any 
chance of being established under the rule of any intel- 
lectual discipline whatever, though the wise are compro- 
mised with the foolish in the eyes of public reason. The 
inevitable result of such a chronic epidemic is the gradual 
destruction of the public morale, which is not sustained, 
among the generality of men, so much by Destruction of 
the direct sentiment as by habit, guided by public mo- 
the uniform assent of individual wills. to in- rality. 


variable and general rules, adapted to fix, on every serious 
occasion, the true idea of the public good. So complex is 
the nature of social questions that there is much that is 
to be said on all sides ; and there is no institution, how- 
ever indispensable, which does not involve serious and nu- 
merous inconveniences, more or less partial and transient ; 
and, on the other hand, there is no Utopia so wild as not 
to oft'er some incontestable advantages : and few are the 
minds which are not so preoccupied by ideas, or stimulated 
by passion, as to be able to contemplate at once all the 
aspects of any social subject. Thus it is that almost all the 
great maxims of public morality are condemned on account 
of their salient faults, while their determining grounds are 
hidden till exhibited by an exact analysis, which must in 
many cases be extremely delicate. Thus, again, it is that 
all true moral order is incompatible with the existing 
vagabond liberty of individual minds, if such license were 
to last; for the great social rules which should become 
customary cannot be abandoned to the blind and arbitrary 
decision of an incompetent public without losing all their 
efficacy. The requisite convergence of the best minds 
cannot be obtained without the voluntary renunciation, on 
the part of most of them, of their sovereign right of free 
inquiry, which they will doubtless be willing to abdicate, 
as soon as they have found organs worthy to' exercise 
appropriately their vain provisional supremacy. If it is so 
in problems of science, there is every reason to expect it in 
the more difficult questions of social principle. Mean- 
while, all vague notions of public good, degeuerating into 
an indistinct philanthropy, must succumb to the energetic 
forces of a highly stimulated selfishness. In the daily 
course of our political conflicts we see accordingly the 
most conscientious men taxing each other with wickedness 
and folly ; and, on every serious occasion, the most oppo- 
site doctrines maintained by persons equally worthy of 
confidence: and, while all deep and steady conviction is 
thus rendered impossible, no true political morality can be 
hoped for by those who desire it most. 

This public demoralization has, it must be admitted, 
been sensibly retarded, in our time, by the preponderance 
of that revolutionary doctrine which has borne the imputa- 


tion of causing it ; for the revolutionary party, progressive 
in character, could not but be animated, more than the 
others, by sincere convictions, which, in their depth and 
activity, must tend to restrain, and even annihilate, indi- 
vidual selfishness. This was especially remarkable during 
the season when the revolutionary doctrine was, by a 
general illusion, supposed to be destined to reorganize 
society. Under the impulse of this persuasion, the strongest 
social devotedness that can shed honour upon contemporary 
history was manifested. But this could be only for a time. 
As the illusion disappeared, the convictions which arose 
from it became first weakened, and then mingled with the 
influences of the stationary, and even the retrograde polity : 
and though they are still of a higher order than those 
which are inspired by the other doctrines, and especially 
among the young, they have not energy to resist the dis- 
solving action of the revolutionary philosophy, even among 
its own advocates ; so that this philosophy now contributes, 
almost as much as its two antagonists, to the spread of 
political demoralization. 

Private morality is, happily, much less depen- p • , * 
deut on established opinions. Other conditions moralitv. 
enter into this case; and in the commonest 
questions, natural sentiment is far more operative than 
in public relations. Disorganizing influences are strongly 
counteracted by the continuous amelioration of our manners, 
through a more equable intellectual development, by a 
juster sense and more familiar taste for the various fine 
arts, and by the gradual improvement of social con- 
ditions in consequence of steady industrial progress. The 
common rules of domestic and personal morality have 
guarded private life longer than political from the invasion 
of disorganizing influences, and the intrusion of individual 
analvsis. But the time has arrived for these inevitable 
disturbances, long concealed, to manifest their dangerous 
activity. So long ago as the first rise of the revolutionary 
state, this deleterious influence on morality, properly so 
called, began with a serious innovation on the institution 
of Marriage, which would have been radically changed, by 
the permission of divorce in Protestant countries, if public 
decency and private good sense had not, up to this time, 


weakened the pernicious effects of theologico-metaphysical 
extravagances. Still, private morality could be reached 
only through the destruction of political morals : and now, 
that barrier being broken through, the dissolving action 
threatens domestic, and even personal morality, which is 
the necessary foundation of every other. Whichever way 
we look at it, whether as to the relations of the sexes, to 
those of ages, or of conditions, it is clear that the elements 
of all social life are directly compromised by a corrosive 
discussion which is not directed by true principles, and 
which brings into question, without the possibility of solu- 
tion, even the least important ideas of duty. Even the 
Family, which, amidst the fiercest revolutionary tumults, 
had been on the whole respected, has been assailed in our 
day in its very foundations, by attacks on the hereditary 
principle and on marriage. We have even seen the com- 
monest principle of personal morality, the subjection of 
the passions to reason, denied by pretended reformers who, 
in defiance of all experience and such positive science as 
we have, have proposed as a fundamental dogma of their 
regenerated morality, the systematic dominion of the pas- 
sions, which they have striven, not to restrain, but to excite 
by the strongest stimulants. These speculations have so 
far penetrated social life, that any one is now at liberty to 
make an easy merit of the most turbulent passions ; so 
that, if such license could last, insatiable stomachs might 
at length get to pride themselves on their own voracity. 
It is in vain for the retrograde school to throw the blame of 
all this on the revolutionary school. The censure rests 
upon themselves, inasmuch as they have persisted in ex- 
tolling, as the only intellectual bases of social duty, prin- 
ciples which have betrayed their impotence in this very 
case; for, if theological conceptions are, in truth, the 
immutable bases of future as well as past morality, how is 
it that they now fail to obviate such license ? What are 
we to think of the attempt to shore up by laborious artifices, 
the religious principles which are proposed, after they have 
lost their strength, as the only supports of moral order? 
No supreme function can be assigned to convictions that 
have themselves given way before the development of human 
reason, which is not likely to use its mature power to 


reconstruct the bonds whicli it broke through in the efforts 
of its youth. It is remarkable that the license I have 
spoken of has been proposed by the ardent restorers of 
religious theories, in their exasperation against all positive 
philosophy ; and this has, for some time past, been the 
case with Protestant, no less than Catholic advocates. So 
far from furnishing bases for morality, domestic or per- 
sonal, religious convictions have long tended to its injury, 
both by hindering its erection on more solid foundations 
among those who are free from their control, and by being 
insufficient for their own subjects, without the active inter- 
vention of a sacerdotal authority; that authority mean- 
while perpetually losing its hold over the more advanced 
populations, and being more and more absorbed by the 
care of its own preservation, instead of venturing upon any 
unpopular scheme of discipline. Daily experience shows 
that the ordinary morality of religious men is not, at 
present, in spite of our intellectual anarchy, superior to 
that of the average of those who have quitted the churches. 
The chief practical tendency of religious convictions is, in 
our present social life, to inspire an instinctive and insur- 
mountable hatred against all who have emancipated them- 
selves, without any useful emulation having arisen from 
the conflict. Thus the chief assaults, direct and indirect, 
on private as well as public morality, are as strictly im- 
putable to the stationary, and yet more to the retrograde, 
than to the revolutionary philosophy, which is commonly 
made to bear all the blame. It is indeed but too evident that 
the three doctrines are almost equally powerless to restrain 
the development of individual selfishness, which grows 
bolder, from day to day, in clamouring for the license of 
the least social passions, in the name of universal intel- 
lectual anarchy. 

The second characteristic of our condition p i>- 

follows from the first. It is the systematic «^,.l?^f;^„ 
,..,.,. , 'J- 11 corruption, 

corruption which is set up as an indispensable 

instrument of government. The three doctidnes bear their 

share, though it may be an unequal one, in this disgraceful 

result, because all exclude, as we have seen, true political 

convictions. Amidst the absence, or the discredit, of 

general ideas, which have now no power to command 


genuine acts, there is no other daily resource for the main- 
tenance of even a rough and precarious order than an 
appeal, more or less immediate, to personal interests. Such 
an influence is scarcely ever needed with men of deep con- 
victions. Even in the lower order of characters, human 
nature is rarely so debased as to allow a course of political 
conduct in opposition to any strong convictions ; and such 
contrariety, if persevered in, would soon paralyse the facul- 
ties. In the scientific class, in which philosophical convic- 
tions are at present most common and best marked, active 
corruption is scarcely practicable, though minds are there 
much of the same quality as they are elsewhere. Thus, 
exceptional cases apart, the rapid spread of a coiTuption 
which avails itself of the half-convictions that are prevalent 
in the political world must be attributed mainly to the 
undecided and fluctuating state in which social ideas are 
kept by the intellectual anarchy of our time. Not only 
does this disorder of minds permit the political corruption : 
it even requires it, as the only means of obtaining any sort 
of practical convergence, such as is necessary for the mere 
preservation of the social state in its grossest interests: 
and we must prepare ourselves for the continuous extension 
of the evil, as long as intellectual anarchy goes on destroy- 
ing all strong political conviction. Eulers and the ruled 
are alike guilty in regard to this vice : the rulers by their 
disdain of all social theory ; by their repression of mind, 
and by their application of the instrument which they 
cannot dispense with to their own, instead of the general 
interest ; and the ruled by their acceptance of the proffered 
corrui)tion, and by their intellectual condition rendering 
the use of it inevitable. If individuals cannot co-ojjerate 
on any other ground than that of private interest, they 
have no right to complain that governments take the same 
ground to procure the assistance that they cannot dispense 
with, during a period in which it is scarcely possible to see 
clearly what the public good really consists in. All that 
can be said for such a state of things is that matters would 
be worse if individual eccentricities were not somewhat 
restrained by personal interest, in the absence of better 
influences ; and that it is the natural result of the situation 
to which it applies, and therefore certainly destined to 


disappear whenever society shall begin to admit of a better 
discipline. Till then we must expect to see this miserable 
expedient more and more resorted to ; as is proved by the 
constant experience of all peoples living under a prolonged 
constitutional or representative regime, as we now call it, 
always compelled to organize in this manner a certain 
material discipline in the midst of a complete intellectual, 
and therefore moral anarchy. All that we have a right to 
require is that governments, instead of welcoming this 
disastrous necessity, and making an eager use of the facili- 
ties it offers, should set themselves to favour, systematically, 
bv all the meaus at their command, ihe great philosophical 
elaboration through which modem society may enter upon 
a better course. 

By corruption, I do not mean only direct venality, 
nor yet the holding of honorary distinctions which are 
merely flattering to the vanity. The scoj)e offered to 
various kinds of ambition is a more corrupting influence. 
In some countries this had been carried so far, in the form 
of creation of offices, that nations are farmed by the 
functionaries of their governments. The danger of such a 
course is obvious enough ; for the number of aspirants, 
where offices are very numerous, must always largely 
exceed that of the chosen ; and their disappointment must 
awaken passions anything but favourable to the established 
regime. Moreover, the practice must spread the more it is 
resorted to ; and it will go on extending till the time for 
social reorganization has arrived. Here, ac^ain, all the 
three schools must share the blame. The Revolutionary 
school supplied, as we have seen, the dissolving influence 
which rendered the system of corruption necessary. The 
Stationary school even sets it up as a type, declaring the 
equal admission of all to public functions to be the final 
destination of the general social movement; and aggra- 
vating the case by connecting the conditions of order with 
the mere possession of fortune, however obtained. As for 
the Retrograde school, with all its pretensions to moral 
purity, it employs corruption as fatally as the other two, 
under the special form which it appropriates, — that of 
systematic hypocrisy. From the opening of the revolu- 
tionary period, in the sixteenth 'century, this system of 


hypocrisy has been more and more elaborated in practice, 
permitting the emancipation of all minds of a certain bear- 
ing, on the tacit condition that they should aid in protract- 
ing the submission of the masses. This was, eminently, 
the policy of the Jesuits. Thus has the retrograde school 
suffered under this vice as early as the others ; and it can- 
not but resort to corruption more and more, in proportion 
to its own opposition to the general movement of the 
society which it pretends to rule. 

This, then, is our state. For want of a moral authority, 
material order requires the use of either terror or corrup- 
tion ; and the latter is both more durable, less incon- 
venient, and more accordant with the nature of modem 
society than the former. But, while admitting the in- 
evitable character of the evil, it is impossible not to lament, 
bitterly and mournfully, the blindness which prevents the 
social powers of our time from facilitating to the utmost 
the philosophical evolution by which alone we can issue 
into a better state. It seems as if statesmen of all parties 
were agreed to close this sole avenue of safety by visiting 
with stupid reprobation all elaboration of social theories. 
This again, however, is only another consequence of the 
present state of tile most civilized nations ; and, as a con- 
sequence, not less necessary or characteristic than those 
that have gone before. 

Low aims of The third symptom of our social situation 

political is the growing preponderance of material 

questions. and immediate considerations in regard to 

political questions. There is something more concerned 
here than the ordinary antagonism between theory and 
practice, aggravated by the weakness of attempts at theory 
in an infantile period of social science. The repugnance 
to theory is further attributable to the historical circum- 
stance that when, three centuries ago, the spiritual power 
was finally annulled or absorbed by the temporal, all lofty 
social speculations were more and more devolved upon 
minds which were always pre-occupied by practical affairs. 
Thus kings and their peoples concurred in exalting the 
lower order of considerations ; and the tendency belonged 
to all the three schools of polity. If the crowning 
evil of our time be its intellectual anarchy, it is clear that 


we cannot too strongly lament this irrational unanimity 
of the political world in closing the path of progress by 
proscribing speculative researches. We see the |^ ^ i ^ 
consequences in our experience of the past cen- Proffress 
tury. In seeking social reorganization, men have 
not first looked to the doctrines of a new social order, 
and then to the corresponding manners; but have gone 
straight to the construction of institutions, at a time when 
we have all possible evidence that institutions can be 
nothing more than provisional, restricted to the most indis- 
pensable objects, and having no other relation to the future 
than such facility as they may afford to the process of 
political regeneration. The making of institutions in our 
day consists in parcelling out the old political powers, 
minutely organizing factitious and complex antagonisms 
among them, rendering them more and more precarious by 
submitting them to election for terms ; but in no way 
changing either the general nature of the ancient regime 
or the spirit which worked it. For want of all social, 
doctrine, nothing more has been attempted than restrain- 
ing the powers thus preserved, till there is every danger 
of their being altogether annulled, while the principles 
which were to direct their application were left doubtful 
and obscure. The pompous name of a Constitution is then 
given to this piece of work, and it is consecrated to the 
eternal admiration of posterity. Though the average dura- 
tion of these constitutions has been at most ten years, each 
new system, set up on the very ground of the failure of the 
last, has claimed, under pains and penalties, a general 
faith in its absolute and indefinite triumph. The only 
action of such institutions is in preventing all social re- 
organization by fixing minds on puerile questions of poli- 
tical forms, and by interdicting speculations and philo- 
sophical discussions which would disclose the principles of 
reorganization. By this action, the character of the 
disease has been concealed as much as possible, and any 
gradual and specific cure has been almost impracticable. 
It is strange that minds should be so self -deceived as to 
disclaim all speculative prejudices while they propose the 
most absurd of all political Utopias, — the construction 
of a system of government which rests upon no true social 



doctrine. Such an absurdity is referrible to the cloudy 
prevalence of the metaphysical philosophy, which perverts 
and confuses men's notions in politics, as it did formerly, 
during its short triumph, in all other orders of human 

Fatal to Order. I* ^^ "^"^ ^^^ <^ ^ impediment to pro- 

gress that the preponderance of material 
conceptions is to be deplored. It is dangerous to order. 
When all political evils are imputed to institutions instead 
of to ideas and social manners, which are now the real 
seat of the mischief; the remedy is vainly sought in 
changes, each more serious than the last, in institutions 
and existing powers. The failure of the last change is 
forgotten ; and hopes are concentrated on the next, show- 
ing how ineffectual are the lessons of experience when the 
results are not elucidated by a rational analysis. Such 
changes must occur, in our progress to a better state. 
What it is fair to require in regard to them is that they 
should be recognized as provisional, and be guided by 
some philosophical consideration of the social question at 
large. Another consequence of the prevalent preference of 
institutions to doctrines is, besides its prematurity, its 
engendering errors of the most serious kind, and of a per- 
manent character, by including in the domain of temporal 
government what belongs to the spiritual. For their 
neglect of this grand distinction, the various governments 
of Europe have been punished by becoming responsible for 
all the evils of society, whencesoever they might have 
arisen. The illusion is yet more injurious to society itself 
through the disturbances and mortifications which it in- 
duces. An illustration of the case is presented by the 
discussions and attacks which have so often menaced the 
institution of Property. It is impossible to deny that, 
when all exaggerations are stripped away, an unquestion- 
able amount of evil remains in connection with property, 
which ought to be taken in hand, and remedied, as far as 
our modern social state permits. But it is equally evident 
that the remedy must arise from opinions, customs, and 
manners, and that political regulations can have no radical 
efficacy ; for the question refers us to public prepossessions 
and usages which must habitually direct, for the interest 


of society, the exercise of property, in whose hands soever 
it may be lodged. We may see here how futile and how 
blind, and also how disturbing, is this tendency to refer 
everything to political institutions, instead of fixing expec- 
tation on an intellectual and moral reorganization. 

Thus we proceed, securing neither order nor progress, 
while we consider our sufferings to be of a physical, 
whereas they are really of a moral nature. Modifications 
of ancient systems have been tried, and have given no 
relief ; and our ideas of political progress are narrowing 
down to that of a substitution of persons, — the most dis- 
graceful political degradation of all, because, directed by 
no plan, it tends to subject society to an interminable 
series of catastrophes. The material order, which is all 
that is contemplated, is confided to a power which is re- 
garded as hostile, and perpetually enfeebled by a systematic 
antagonism. The restricted view of each of the agents of 
such a mechanism prevents their co-operation, except under 
the immediate alarm of material anarchy, when they sus- 
pend their useless controversies till the storm has blown 
over, when they go on as before, till some catastrophe 
ensues, taking everybody by surprise, though any oue 
might have foreseen it. In this discarding of social specu- 
lation for the sake of material and immediate considera- 
tions, we see a fresh indication that intellectual anarchy is 
the main cause of our social maladies. 

A fourth characteristic of our social con- incompetence 
dition is a natural consequence and comple- of political 
ment of the preceding ; the incompetence of leaaers. 
the minds which occupy the chief political stations, during 
such a condition of affairs, and even their antipathy to a 
true reorganization : so that a final, and not less disastrous 
illusion of modern society is that the solution of the pro- 
blem may be looked for from those who can do nothing 
but hinder it. From what we have already seen, we must 
be aware that the gradual demolition of all social maxims, 
and, at the same time, the attenuation of political action, 
must tend to remove elevated minds and superior under- 
standings from such a career, and to deliver over the poli-^ 
tical world to the rule of charlatanism and mediocrity. "^ 
The absence of any distinct and large conception of a social 


future is favourable to the more vulgar forms of ambition ; 
and presumptuous and enterprising mediocrity has never 
before had so fortunate a chance. While social principles 
are not even sought, charlatanism will always attract by 
the magnificence of its promises ; and its transient suc- 
cesses will dazzle society, while in a suffering condition, 
and deprived of all rationa] hope. Every impulse of noble 
ambition must turn the best men away from a field of 
action where there is no chance of scope and permanence, 
such as are requisite to the carrying out of generous schemes. 
It is, as M. Guizot has well said, a social period when men 
will feebly, hut desire immensely. It is a state of half -con- 
viction and half- will, resulting from intellectual and moral 
anarchy, offering many obstacles to the solution of our 
difficulties. It is important, however, not to exaggerate 
those obstacles. This very state of half-conviction and 
half -will tends to facilitate by anticipation the prevalence 
of a true conception of society which, once produced, will 
have no active resistance to withstand, because it will re- 
pose on serious convictions : and at present, the dispersion 
of social interests tends to preserve the material order 
which is an indispensable condition of philosophical growth. 
It would be a mere satirical exaggeration to describe exist- 
ing society as preferring political quackery and illusion to 
that wise settlement which it has not had opportunity to 
obtain. When the choice is offered, it will be seen whether 
the attraction of deceptive promises, and the power of 
former habit, will prevent our age from euteriug, with 
ardour and steadiness, upon a better course. There are 
evident symptoms that the choice will be a wise one, 
though the circumstances of the time operate to place the 
direction of the movement in hands which are anything 
but fittest for the purpose. This inconvenience dates from 
the beginning of the revolutionary period, and is not a new, 
but an aggravated evil. For three ceuturies past, the most 
eminent minds have been chiefly engaged with science, and 
have neglected politics ; thus differing widely from the 
wisest men in ancient times, and even in the Middle Ages. 
The consequence of this is that the most difficult and urgent 
questions have been committed to the class which is essen- 
tmUv one under two names, — the civilians and the meta- 


physicians, or, under their common title, the lawyers and 
men of letters, whose position in regard to statesmanship 
is naturally a subordinate one. We shall see hereafter that, 
from its origin to the time of the first French Revolution, 
the system of metaphysical polity was expressed and directed 
by the universities on the one hand and the great judiciary 
corporations on the other : the first constituting a sort of 
spiritual, and the other the temporal power. This state of 
things is still traceable in most countries of the continent ; 
while in France, for above half a century, the arrangement 
has degenerated into such an abuse that the judges are 
superseded by the bar, and the doctors (as they used to be 
called) by mere men of letters ; so that now, any man who 
can hold a pen may aspire to the spiritual regulation of 
society, through the press or from the professional chair, 
unconditionally, and whatever may be his qualifications. 
When the time comes for the constitution of an organic 
condition, the reign of sophists and declaimers will have 
come to an end ; but there will be the impediment to sur- 
mount of their having been provisionally in possession of 
public confidence. 

The survey that we have made must convince us only 
too well of the anarchical state of existing society, under 
its destitution of guiding and governing ideas, and amidst 
its conflict of opinions and passions, which there is no 
power in any of the three schools to cure or moderate. As 
preliminary considerations, these facts are deeply dis- 
heartening ; and we cannot wonder that some generous 
and able, but ill-prepared minds should have sunk into a 
kind of philosophical despair about the future of society, 
which appears to them doomed to fall under a gloomy 
despotism or into mere anarchy, or to oscillate between the 
two. I trust that the study we are about to enter upon 
will give rise to a consoling conviction that the move- 
ment of regeneration is going on, though quietly in com- 
parison with the apparent decomposition, and that the 
most advanced of the human race are at the threshold 
of a social order worthy of their nature and their needs. 
I shall conclude this introduction by showing what must 
necessarily be the intellectual character of the salutary 
philosophy which is to lead us into this better future: 


and its dogmatic exposition will follow in the next 

Advent of the The preliminary survey which I have just 
Positive Phi- concluded led us necessarily into the domain 
losophy. Qf politics. We must now return from this 

excursion, and take our stand again at the point of view of 
this whole Work, and contemplate the condition and pro- 
spects of society from the ground of positive philosophy. 
Every other ground has been found untenable. The theo- 
logical and metaphysical philosophies have failed to secure 
permanent social welfare, while the positive philosophy has 
uniformly succeeded, and conspicuously for three centuries 
past, in reorganizing, to the unanimous satisfaction of the 
intellectual world, all the anterior orders of human concep- 
tions, which had been till then in the same chaotic state 
that we now deplore, in regard to social science. Contem- 
porary opinion regarded the state of each of those sciences 
as hopeless till the positive philosophy brought them out 
of it. There is no reason why it should fail in the latest 
a])plication, after having succeeded in all the earlier. Ad- 
vancing from the less complex categories of ideas to the 
more complex and final one, and comparing with this 
experience the picture just given of our present social 
condition, we cannot but see that the political analysis and 
the scientific concur in demonstrating that the positive 
philosophy, carried on to its completion, is the only possible 
agent in the reorganization of modem society. I wish to 
establish this principle first, and in this place, apart from 
all considerations about my way of proving my point ; so 
that, if my attempt should be hereafter condemned, no 
unfavourable inference may be drawn in regard to a 
method which alone can save society, and that public 
reason should have nothing to do but to require from 
happier successors more effectual endeavours in the same 
direction. In all cases, and especially in this, the method 
is of even more importance than the doctrine ; and it is for 
this reason that I think it right, before closing my long 
introduction, to offer, in a brief form, some last prefatory 

This is not the place in which to enter upon any com- 
parison between the positive political plailosoi^hy and the 


other social theories which have been tried; but, while 
still deferring the scientific appreciation of the positive 
method, and before quitting the political ground on which 
I have, for the occasion, taken mj stand, I must point out 
in a direct and general way, the relation of the positive 
philosophy to the two great necessities of our age. 

The ascendancy of a positive social doctrine Logical co- 
is secured by its perfect logical coherence in herence of the 
its entire application — a characteristic pro- doctnne. 
perty which enables us at once to connect the political with 
the scientific point of view. The positive polity will em- 
brace at once all the essential aspects of the present state 
of civilization, and will dissolve the deplorable opposition 
that now exists between the two orders of social needs, the 
common satisfaction of which will henceforth depend on 
the same principle. It will impart a homogeneous and 
rational character to the desultory politics of our day, and 
it will by the same act connect this co-ordinated present 
with the whole past, so as to establish a general harmony 
in the entire system of social ideas, by exhibiting the 
fundamental uniformity of the collective life of humanity ; 
for this conception cannot, by its nature, be applied to the 
actual social state till it has undergone the test of explain- 
ing, from the same point of view, the continuous series of 
the chief former transformations of society. It is impor- 
tant to note this difference between the positive principle 
and that of the two other schools. The critical school 
treats all times prior to the revolutionary period with a 
blind reprobation. The retrograde school equally fails in 
uniting the present with the past, and uniformly dis- 
parages the position of modem society during the last 
three centuries. It is the exclusive property of the posi- 
tive principle to recognize the fundamental law of con- 
tinuous human development, representing the existing 
evolution as the necessary result of the gradual series of 
former transformations, by simply extending to social 
phenomena the spirit which governs the treatment of all 
other natural phenomena. This coherence and homo- 
geneousness of the positive principle is further shown by 
its operation in not only comprehending all the various 
social ideas in one whole, but in connecting the system 


with the whole of natural philosophy, and constituting 
thus the aggregate of human knowledge as a complete 
scientific hierarchy. We shall see hereafter how this 
is accomplished, and I mention it now to show how the posi- 
tive philosophy, finding thus a general fulcrum in all 
minds, cannot but spread to a universal extension. In the 
present chaotic state of our political ideas we can scarcely 
imagine what must be the irresistible energy of a philo- 
sophical movement, in which the entire renovation of social 
science will be directed by the same spirit which is unani- 
mously recognized as effectual in all other departments of 
human knowledge. Meantime, it finds some points of con- 
tact in the most wilful minds, from whence it may proceed 
to work a regeneration of views. It speaks to every class 
of society, and to every political party, the language best 
adapted to produce conviction, while maintaining the in- 
vincible originality of its fundamental character. It alone, 
embracing in its survey the whole of the social question, 
can render exact justice to the conflicting schools, by esti- 
mating their past and present services. It alone can ex- 
hibit to each party its highest destination, prescribing 
order in the name of progress, and progress in the name 
of order, so that each, instead of annulling, may strengthen 
the other. Bringing no stains from the past, this new 
polity is subject to no imputation of retrograde tyranny, or 
of revolutionary anarchy. The only charge that can be 
brought against it is that of novelty ; and the answer is 
furnished by the evident insufficiency of all existing 
theories, and by the fact that for two centuries past its 
success has been uniform and complete, wherever it has 
been applied. 

, ^ As to its operation upon Order, it is plain 

Qj.jjgj. that true science has no other aim than the 

establishment of intellectual order, which is \ 
the basis of every other. Disorder dreads the scientific I 
spirit even more than the theological, and, in the field of j 
politics, minds which rebelled against metaphysical hypo- : 
theses and theological fictions submit without difficulty to 
the discipline of the positive method. We even see that 
while the mind of our day is accused of tending towards 
absolute scepticism, it eagerly welcomes the least appear- 


ance of positive demonstration, however premature and 
imperfect. The eagerness would be fully as great if the 
idea were once formed that social science might also be 
conducted by the positive spirit. The conception of in- 
variable natural laws, the foundation of every idea of 
order, in all departments, would have the same philo- 
sophical efficacy here as elsewhere, as soon as it was suffi- 
ciently generalized to be applied to social phenomena, 
thenceforth referred, like all other phenomena, to such 
laws. It is.only by the positive polity that the revolu- 
tionary spirit can be restrained, because by it alone can the 
influence of the critical doctrine be justly estimated and 
circumscribed. No longer roused to resistance, as bv the 
retrograde school, and seeing its work done better than by 
itself, it will merge in a doctrine which leaves it nothing 
to do or to desire. Under the rule of the positive spirit, 
again, all the difficult and delicate que'stions which now 
keep up a perpetual irritation in the bosom of society, and 
which can never be settled while mere political solutions 
are proposed, will be scientifically estimated, to the great 
furtherance of social peace. By admitting at once that 
the institutions of modem societies must necessarily be 
merely provisional, the positive spirit will abate unreason- 
able expectations from them, and concentrate effort upon a 
fundamental renovation of social ideas, and consequently 
of public morals. Instead of indifference being caused b} 
this carrying forward of political aims, there will be a new 
source of interest in so modifying modern institutions as to 
make them contributory to the inevitable intellectual and 
moral evolution. At the same time, it will be teaching 
society that, in the present state of their ideas, no political 
change can be of supreme importance, while the perturba- 
tion attending change is supremely mischievous, in the 
way both of immediate hindrance and of diverting atten- 
tion from the true need and procedure. And again, order 
will profit by the recognition of the relative spirit of the 
positive philosophy, which discredits the absolute spirit of 
the theological and metaphysical schools. It cannot but 
dissipate the illusion by which those schools are for ever 
striving to set up, in all stages of civilization, their respec- 
tive types of immutable government ; as when, for instance. 


they propose to civilize Tahiti by a wholesale importation 
of Protestantism and a Parliamentary system. Again, the 
positive spirit tends to consolidate order, by the rational 
development of a wise resignation to incurable political 
evils. Negative as is the character of this virtue, it affords 
an aid under the pains of the human lot which cannot be 
dispensed with, and which has no place under the meta- 
physical polity, which regards political action as indefinite. 
Religious, and especially Christian resignation is, in plain 
truth, only a prudent temporizing, which enjoins the 
endurance of present suffering in view of an ultimate 
ineffable felicity. A true resignation, — that is, a per- 
manent disposition to endure, steadily, and without hope 
of compensation, all inevitable evils, can proceed only 
from a deep sense of the connection of all kinds of natural 
phenomena with invariable laws. If there are (as I doubt 
not there are) political evils which, like some personal 
sufferings, cannot be remedied by science, science at least 
proves to us that they are incurable, so as to calm our 
restlessness under pain by the conviction that it is by 
natural laws that they are rendered insurmountable. 
Human nature suffers in its relations with the astronomi- 
cal world, and the physical, chemical, and biological, as 
well as the political. How is it that we turbulently resist 
in the last case, while, in the others, we are calm and 
resigned, under pain as signal, and as repugnant to our 
nature? Surely it is because the positive philosophy has 
as yet developed our sense of the natural laws only in 
regard to the simpler phenomena; and when the same 
sense shall have been awakened with regard to the more 
complex phenomena of social life, it will fortify us with a 
similar resignation, general or special, provisional or in- 
definite, in the case of political suffering. An habitual 
conviction of this kind cannot but conduce to public tran- 
quillity, by obviating vain efforts for redress, while it 
equally excludes the apathy which belongs to the passive 
character of religious resignation, by requiring submission 
to nothing but necessity, and encouraging the noblest 
exercises of human activity, wherever the analysis of the 
occasion opens any prospect whatever of genuine remedy. 
Finally, the positive philosbphy befriends public order by 


bringing back men's understandings to a normal state 
through the influence of its method alone, before it has 
had time to establish any social theory. It dissipates dis- 
order at once by imposing a series of indisputable scientific 
conditions on the study of political questions. By includ- 
ing^ social science in the scientific hierarchy, the positive 
spirit admits to success in this study only well-prepared 
and disciplined minds, so trained in the preceding depart- 
ments of knowledge as to be fit for the complex problems 
of the last. The long and difficult preliminary elabora- 
tion must disgust and deter vulgar and ill-prepared minds, 
and subdue the most rebellious. This consideration, if 
there were no other, would prove the eminently organic 
tendency of the new political philosophy. 

I have dwelt on this influence of the Posi- t* ^ * 
tive philosophy, in favour of Order, because Progress.^" 
it is that which is, as yet, least recognized, 
while the retrograde and stationary schools continue to 
found their claims upon that very point. There is less 
mistake about its favourable influence on Progress. In 
all its applications, the positive spirit is directly progres- 
sive; its express office being to increase our knowledge, 
and perfect the connection of its parts. Even the illustra- 
tions of progressions are, at the present day, derived from 
the positive sciences. Whatever rational idea of social 
progress (that is, of continuous development, with a steady 
tendency towards a determinate end,) anywhere exists, 
should, as we shall hereafter see, be attributed to the un- 
perceived influence of the positive philosophy, in disen- 
gaging this great notion from its present vague and 
fluctuating state by clearly assigning the aim and the 
general course of progress. Though Christianity certainly 
bore a part in originating the sentiment of social progress 
by proclaiming the superiority of the new law to the old, 
it is evident that the theological polity, proceeding upon 
an immutable type, which was realized only in the past, 
must have become radically incompatible with ideas of 
continuous progression, and manifests, on the contrary, a 
thoroughly retrograde character. The metaphysical polity, 
in its dogmatic aspect, has the same incompatibility, 
though the feeble connection of its doctrines renders it 


more accessible to the spirit of our time. Indeed, it was 
only after the decline of that school had begun, that ideas 
of progress took any general possession of the public 
mind. Thus the progressive, as well as the organic 
instinct, is to be developed by the positive philosophy 

The only idea of progress which is really proper to the 
revolutionary philosophy, is that of the continuous exten- 
sion of liberty ; that is, in positive terras, the gradual 
expansion of human powers. Now, even in the restricted 
and negative sense in which this is true, — that of the per- 
petual diminution of obstacles, — the positive philosophy 
is incon test ably superior : for true liberty is nothing else 
than a rational submission to the preponderance of the 
laws of nature, in release from all arbitrary personal dicta- 
tion. Decisions of sovereign assemblies have been called 
laws by the metaphysical polity, and have been fictitiously 
regarded as a manifestation of popular will. But no such 
homage paid to constitutional entities can disguise the 
arbitrary tendency which marks all the philosophies but the 
positive. The arbitrary can never be excluded while 
political phenomena are referred to Will, divine or human, 
instead of being connected with invariable natural laws ; 
and liberty will remain illusory and precarious, notwith- 
standing all constitutional artifices, and whatever be the 
will to which we pay our daily obedience. By substituting 
the empire of genuine convictions for that of arbitrary 
will, the positive philosophy will put an end to the abso- 
lute liberty of the revolutionary > school, — the license of 
running from one extravagance to another, — and, by 
establishing social principles, will meet the need at once of 
order and of progress. The special office of the revolu- 
tionary philosophy, that of extinguishing all but the 
historical existence of the ancient political system, is 
virtually committed to the positive principle ; and, in fact, 
the power exercised by the critical doctrine in this direc- 
tion has been owing to its serving the purpose of a pro- 
visional organ to the positive philosophy. In other sciences, 
the critical action, however energetic, is only a collateral 
consequence of its organic development ; and the organic 
development which is fatal to the old theological system, 


involves in the same condemnation the metaphysical spirit, 
which is even the less logical of the two. The most 
serious difficulty of contemporary politics is the condition 
of the lower classes ; and in this case, the positive philo- 
sophy affords practical amelioration most favourable to 
progress. The revolutionary polity opened only an in- 
surrectionary issue to this difficulty, and merely shifted 
without solving the question. The question is not settled 
by opening a way to popular ambition, the gratification of 
which must be confined to a few, (probably deserters from 
their class,) and can do nothing to soothe the murmurs of 
the multitude. The general lot is even aggravated by the 
excitement of unreasonable hopes, and by the elevation of 
a few by the chances of the political game. As it is the 
inevitable lot of the majority of men to live on the more or 
less precarious fruits of daily labour, the great social 
problem is to ameliorate the condition of this majority, 
without destroying its classification, and disturbing the 
general economy : and this is the function of the positive 
poHty, regarded as regulating the final classification of 
modem society. We shall have occasion to see hereafter 
that the mental reorganization, by habitually interposing a 
common moral authority between the working classes and 
the leaders of society, wiU offer the only regular basis of a 
pacific and equitable reconciliation of their chief conflicts, 
nearly abandoned in the present day to the savage disci- 
pline of a purely material antagonism. 

In this brief sketch of the prominent characteristics of 
the positive polity, we have seen that, notwithstanding its 
severe estimate of the different existing parties, it com- 
mands access to the spirit of each by proving itself adapted 
to fulfil the aims which each has pursued too exclusively. 
It can also turn to the profit of its gradual ascendancy all 
the important incidents of existing society which it could 
not intercept. Whether in its hour of exultation, the one 
school manifests its insufficiency ; or whether, in the 
despair of failure, the other shows a disposition to welcome 
new means of political action ; or whether, again, a kind of 
universal torpor exhibits in its nakedness the aggregate of 
social needs, the new philosophy can always lay hold of a 
certain general issue to introduce, by a daily application. 


its fundamental instruction. In doing this however, we 
must, it seems to me, lay aside all hope of a real conversion 
oi the retrograde school Setting aside some happy in- 
dividual anomalies, such as always exist, and may become 
more frequent, it remains indisputable that there is such 
an antipathy, in regard to social questions, between the 
theological and the positive philosophies, that the one can 
never estimate the other, and must disappear before it, 
without being able to undergo any radical modification of 
its present form. It is, in fact, not Order that the ancient 
regime aims at, but only its own preconception of a unique 
order, connect-ed with its habits of mind and special 
interests, outside of which everything appears disorderly, 
and therefore indifferent. In the midst of its pretended 
devotion to general order, the retrograde school has often 
betrayed its tendency to care for the means more than the 
end. It is through the stationary school, whose love of 
order is at least more impartial, if not more disinterested, 
that the positive polity must obtain the access which it 
could not hope for from the retrograde school. The meta- 
physical fictions of the parliamentary or constitutional 
philosophy may have diverted the mind of the stationary 
school from the true issue; but they have not attained 
such an ascendancy among the nations of the European 
continent as to render them deaf to the rational voice of 
the new philosophy, when it appeals to a school so openly 
disposed as is the stationary party to establish permanent 
order, on whatever principles, in modem society. Some 
useful action may therefore be hoped for through this 
medium. — Nevertheless, I avow that it is on the revolu- 
tionary school alone that, in my opinion, we can expect 
that the positive polity can exercise a predominant in- 
fluence, because this school is the only one that is always 
open to new action on behalf of progress. All its indis- 
pensable provisional doctrines will be absorbed by the new 
philosophy, while all its anarchical tendencies will be 
extinguished. There will be more explosions of revolu- 
tionary doctrine, as long as there are any remains of the 
retrograde system ; for the natural course of events does 
not wait for our slow philosophical preparation. Whether 
in virtue of our intellectual condition, or of faults com- 


mitted by existing governments, such outbreaks will occur ; 
ajid perhaps they may be necessary to the uprooting of all 
hope of reconstructing social order on the old basis ; but 
the positive philosophy will have foreseen such conflicts, 
and will take no part in them, further than to make use of 
the instruction that thev afford. It will not interfere with 
the last operations of the revolutionary preponderance ; — 
knowing that they are the last. Nor wQl it paralyse so 
important a general disposition as that which constitutes 
the critical spirit, properly so called. By subordinating it 
for ever to the organic spirit, it will open to it broad 
political aims ; it will afford it employment in destroying 
all metaphysical and theological interference, using for this 
end the satirical faculties which produced nothing in the 
last century, but which may be of a secondary value in 
influencing the development of the political character that 
will be finally assigned to each school. On the whole, we 
may hope that the positive philosophy will find grounds 
of support among the most advanced sections of the re- 
volutionary school ; and, whatever may be the hopes of 
that school from different political parties, it will be unable 
to dispense with the scientific superiority of the positive 
doctrine, which is the certain cause and guarantee of its 
gradual ascendancy. 

It might have been hoped that the renova- Anarchical 
tion we are anticipating would have been tendencies of 
largely aided by the scientific class of society, the scientific 
as that which must be most familiar with class, 
positive science. But it is not so. At present, the 
anarchical tendencies of that class appear to be as strong 
as any. The indifference of scientific men to the most 
interesting and most urgent of all classes of problems may 
be partly accounted for by their deep intellectual disgust 
at the irrational character of the social doctrines of their 
day ; but there are other reasons, even less honourable than 
this. They are themselves defective in scientific discipline. 
They abhor generalities, and have a systematic predilection 
for specialities. Under the idea of an organization of labour, 
they restrict their several pursuits within the narrowest 
bounds, without providing for the investigation of general 
relations ; and thus, science becomes a pastime, grounded 


on no adequate preparation. It is not wonderful then that 
they have no interest in the entire generality which is the 
indispensable attribute of any philosophy that aspires to 
the moral government of mankind. Daily experience 
shows that, when learned bodies are brought into junction, 
for any political purpose, with sensible men who know 
nothing of science, but are accustomed to general views, 
the superiority rests with the latter, even in regard to 
matters which particularly concern the scientific class. As 
long as this is the case, the scientific class decrees its own 
political subordination. Their social sentiment is on a par 
with their ideas ; and their egotism is aggravated by their 
devotion to specialities, when it ought to be subdued by a 
mastery of positive science ; and would be so, if they could 
admit its general ideas. This is no fault of individuals 
among them. It is imputable to the defective scientific 
education of our time; and all that men of science are 
censurable for is their dogmatic denial of the need of a 
better. We must, however, abandon all hope of their co- 
operation in extending the positive method to the study of 
social phenomena. If we may anticipate anything in that 
direction, it must be from a rising generation for whom a 
more adequate training must be provided, and who will be 
led by a really scientific education beyond the special and 
isolated studies to which they now conceive themselves to 
be destined, and which constitute at present their only 
idea of scientific pursuit. 

P I . I have now presented a view of the chief 

points of support which the present state of 
the social world affords to the renovating influence of the 
new political philosophy. This introduction may appear 
long ; but it will abridge my future labour by furnishing 
my readers with a kind of rational programme of the con- 
ditions of the subject. Yet more, it indicates clearly what 
is apt to escape the notice of minds habituated to the 
superficial and irrational treatment of social questions, — 
the complete political efficacy of the positive philosophy. 
The high practical utility of the theory I am about to offer 
cannot be questioned by the haughtiest politician when it 
has once been demonstrated that the deepest want of 
modern society is, in its nature, eminently theoretical, and 

cojS'cluding considerations. 193 

that, consequently, an intellectual, and then a moral re- 
organization must precede and direct the political. — This 
mutual relation being established, with a care proportionate 
to its importance, we must now return, — not again to quit 
it, — to the strictly scientific point of view of this work, and 
pursue the study of the phenomena of social physics in a 
disposition of mind as purely speculative as that in which 
we surveyed the other fundamental sciences, with no other 
intellectual ambition than to discover the natural laws of a 
final order of phenomena, remarkable in the extreme, and 
never before examined in this way. 

Before proceeding, however, to this direct examination, 
I propose to consider, briefly, the principal philosophical 
attempts to constitute social science ; as a general estimate 
of this kind will tend to illustrate the nature and spirit of 
this last great department of positive philosophy. 






„. . j^ '1 1 /"E have seen that the complex and special 

cial Scfence.^ nature of social phenomena is the chief 

reason why the study has remained imperfect 
to the last; it being impossible to analyse them till the 
simpler departments of science were understood, and till 
the great discovery of cerebral physiology had opened a 
rational access to their examination. To this main con- 
sideration we must now add another, which explains more 
specially why it has never till now been possible to establish 
social science on a positive basis. This consideration is, 
that we have not till now been in possession of a range of 
facts wide enough to disclose the natural laws of social 

The first rise of speculative doctrine has always, in all 
sciences, taken place from the theological method, as I have 
shown. In the case of the anterior sciences, this did not 
preclude the formation of a positive theory, when once there 
had been a sufficient perpetuity of phenomena. The 
materials were ready before there were observers qualified 
to make a scientific use of them. But, even if observers 
had been ready, the phenomena of social life were not 
ample and various enough in early days to admit of their 
philosophical analysis. Many and profound modifications 
of the primitive civilization were necessary to afford a suffi- 
cient basis for experiment. We shall see hereafter how 
indispensable was the operation of the theological philo- 
sophy in directing the earliest progress of the human mind 
and of society. Our present business is to notice the 
obstacles which it presented to the formation of a true 
social science. It was not, in fact, till modern political 
revolutioBB, and especially the French, had proved the 


insufficiency of the old political system for the social needs 
of the age that the great idea of Progress could acquire 
sufficient firmness, distinctness and generality, to serve a 
scientific purpose. The direction of the social movement 
was not determined ; and social speculation was embarrassed 
by fanciful notions of oscillating or circular movements, 
such as even now cause hesitation in able but ill-prepared 
minds as to the real nature of human progression. Till it 
is known in what this progression consists, the fact itself 
may be disputed ; since, from such a point of view, humanity 
may appear to be doomed to an arbitrary succession of 
identical phases, without ever experiencing a new transfor- 
mation, gradually directed towards an end determined by 
the whole constitution of human nature. 

Thus all idea of social progress was interdicted to the 
philosophers of antiquity, for want of materials of political 
observation. The most eminent and sagacious of them 
were subject to the common tendency to suppose the con- 
temporary state of things inferior to that of former times. 
This supposition was the more natural and legitimate 
because the philosophical works which contained this view 
coincided, as to date, with the decline of the Greek and 
Eoman regime. This decline, which, in relation to the 
whole of human history, was in fact progress, could not 
appear so to the ancients, who did not anticipate what was 
to come. I have before intimated that the first dawning 
sense of human progression was inspired by Christianity, 
which, by proclaiming the superiority of the law of Jesus 
to that of Moses, gave form to the idea of a more perfect 
state replacing a less perfect, which had been necessary as 
a preparation. Though Catholicism^ was, in this, simply 
the organ of expression of human reason, the service it thus 
rendered entitles it not the less, as all true philosophers 
will agree, to our eternal gratitude. But, apart from the 

^ Tills great idea belongs essentially to Catholicism, from which 
Protestantism derived it in an imperfect and corrupt manner, — not 
only by recurring irrationally to the period of the primitive Churcli, 
but also by offering for popular guidance the most barbarous and 
dangerous part of the Scriptures — that which relates to Hebrew 
antiquity. Mohammedanism pursued the same practice, and thus 
instituted a mere imitation of Judaic barbarism, without intro- 
ducing any real amelioration. 


mischief of the mysticism and vague obscurity which be- 
long to all applications of the theological method, such a 
beginning could not possibly suggest any scientific view of 
social progression : for any such progression was barred at 
once by the claim of Christianity to be the ultimate stage 
at which the human mind must stop. The social efficacy 
of the theological philosophy is now exhausted, and it has 
become therefore retrograde, as we have seen ; but the con- 
dition of continuity is an indispensable element in the 
conception of progress; an idea which would have no 
power to guide social speculation if it represented progress 
as limited by its nature to a determinate condition, attained 
long ago. 

It is thus evident that the conception of progress belongs 
exclusively to the positive philosophy. This philosophy 
alone can indicate the final term which human nature will 
be for ever approaching and never attaining ; and it alone 
can prescribe the general course of this gradual develop- 
ment. Accordingly, the only rational ideas of continuous 
advance are of modem origin, and relate especially to the 
expansion of the positive sciences which gave birth to 
them. It may even be worth observing that the first 
satisfactory view of general progression was proposed by a 
philosopher whose genius was essentially mathematical ; 
and therefore conversant with the simplest form of the 
scientific spirit. Whatever may be the value of this 
observation, it is certain that Pascal was animated by a 
sense of the progress of the sciences when he uttered the im- 
mortal aphorism : " the entire succession of men, through 
the whole course of ages, must be regarded as one man, 
always living and incessantly learning." Whatever may 
have been the actual effect of this first ray of light, it 
must be admitted that the idea of continuous progress had 
no scientific consistency, or public regard, till after the 
memorable controversy, at the beginning of the last 
century, about a general comparison of the ancients and 
modems. In my view, that solemn discussion constitutes 
a ripe event in the history of the human mind, which thus, 
for the first time, declared that it had made an irreversible 
advance. It is needless to point out that the leaders of 
this great philosophical movement derived all the force of 


their arguments from the scientific spirit: but it is re- 
markable that their most illustrious adversaries committed 
the inconsistency of declaring that they preferred the 
philosophy of Descartes to that which preceded it. — From 
this scientific origin the conception spread more and more 
in a political direction, till, at length, the French revolu- 
tion manifested the tendency of humanity toward a poli- 
tical system, indeterminate enough, but radically different 
from the whole system. This was the negative view of 
social progress; ineffectual in itself, but necessary as a 
preparation for the advent of the positive philosophy, 
when it should have made its induction from social pheno- 
mena, and ascertained their laws. 

Having thus seen how impossible was the formation of 
social science in ancient times, we are in a condition to 
appreciate the attempts which were here and there pre- 
maturely made. The foregoing analysis shows that the 
political conditions of the subject are, generally, precisely 
coincident with the scientific, so as to retard by their com- 
petition the possibility of establishing social science on a 
positive basis. This obstacle has existed even up to our 
own generation, who can only make a mere beginning in 
seeking in the past a basis for social science, in virtue of 
their experience of a revolutionary period, and of their 
opening perception of the positive principle, as they see it 
established in the other departments of human knowledge, 
including that of intellectual and moral phenomena. It 
would be waste of time, and a departure from my object, 
to analyse fully the attempts of ancient philosophers to 
form a political science which was thus clearly impractic- 
able in their day ; and I shall therefore merely point out 
the essential vice of each speculation, thereby justifying 
the judgment that we have just passed by anticipation, 
and disclosing the true nature of an enterprise which re- 
mains to be begun. 

The name of Aristotle first presents itself, a • f +1 » 
his memorable " Politics" being one of the «« Politics." 
finest productions of antiquity, and furnish- 
ing the general type of most of the works on that subject 
that have followed. This treatise could not possibly dis- 
close any sense of the progressive tendencies of humanity, 


nor the slightest glimpse of tlie natural laws of civilization; 
and it was necessarily occupied by metaphysical discussions 
of the principle and form of government : but it is truly 
marvellous that any mind shoidd have produced a work so 
advanced, and even nearer to a positive view than his other 
works, at a time when political observation was restricted 
to a uniform and preliminary social state, and when the 
nascent positive spirit lived feebly in geometry alone. The 
ianalysis by which he refuted the dangerous fancies of 
Plato and his imitators about community of property 
evidences a rectitude, a sagacity, and a strength which, in 
their application to such subjects, have been rarely equalled, 
and never surpassed. Thus much I have said, in the way 
of homage to the first manifestation of human genius on 
the great subject of government, notwithstanding the 
evident influence that it has exercised upon philosophical 
meditation, from its own day to this. 

The works which succeeded need not detain us. They 
were merely an accumulation of fresh materials, classified 
by the type that Aristotle had furnished. The next period 
worth notice is that in which the preponderance of the 
positive spirit in the study of phenomena caused the first 
clear comprehension of the meaning of general laws, and 
in which the idea of human progress began to assume 
some consistency; and, to find these two conditions in 
concurrence, we can hardly go further back than the 
middle of the last century. The first and most important 
Montesauieu series of works which then presents itself is 

that of Montesquieu, first, in his treatise on 
the ** Greatness and Decline of the Eomans,*' and after- 
wards in his " Spirit of Laws." The great strength of 
this memorable work appears to me to lie in its tendency 
to regard political phenomena as subject to invariable laws, 
like all other phenomena. This is manifested at the very 
outset, in the preliminary chapter, in which, for the first 
time in the history of the human mind, the general idea of 
^m; is directly defined, in relation tp all, even to political 
subjects, in the same sense in which it is applied in the 
simplest positive investigations. The progress of science 
which had been effected by the labours of Descartes, 
.Galileo and Kepler, a century before, had rendered the 


most advanced minds familiar with an incomplete notion 
of progress. Montesquieu's conception was a generaliza- 
tion of this incomplete notion : and, instead of denying 
originality to so eminent a service, we may well be amazed 
that such a conception should be offered, before the posi- 
tive method had extended bevond the simplest natural 
phenomena, — being scarcely admitted into the department 
of chemistry, and not yet heard of in the study of living 
bodies. And, in the other view, a man must have been in 
advance of his time, who could conceive of natural laws as 
the basis of social speculation and action, while all other 
able men were talking about the absolute and indefinite 
power of legislators, when armed with due authority, to 
modify at will the social state. The very qualities, how- 
ever, which give its pre-eminence to Montesquieu's work 
prove to us the impossibility of success in an enterprise so 
premature in regard to its proposed object, the very condi- 
tions of which were still impracticable. The project of the 
work is not fulfilled in its course ; and, admirable as are 
some of its details, its falls back, like all others, upon the 
primitive type offered by Aristotle's treatise. We find no re- 
ference of social phenomena to the laws whose existence 
was announced at the outset ; nor any scientific selection 
and connection of facts. The general nature of his prac- 
tical conclusions seems to show how far the execution of 
his work was from corresponding with his original inten- 
tion ; for his desultory review of the whole mass of social 
subjects ends in his setting up, as a universal political 
type, the EngHsh parliamentary system, the insufficiency 
of which, for the satisfaction of modem social requirements, 
was not, it is true, so conspicuous in his day as it is now, 
but still discernible enough, as we shall have occasion to 
see. It was honourable to Montesquieu's philosophical 
character, that he steered wide of the metaphysical Utopias 
which lay in his way, and resorted rather to the narrow 
anchorage at which he rested ; but such a resort, so narrow 
and so barren, proves that he had wandered away from the 
course announced by himself. The only part of the book 
which bears any true marks of sustained positivity is that 
in which the social influence of permanent local causes, — 
of that which in political language we may call climate, — 


is considered. This view, evidently derived from Hippo- 
crates, manifests a tendency to attach observed phenomena 
to forces able to produce them, as in natural philosophy ; 
but the aim has failed. The true political influence of 
climate is misconceived, and usually much exaggerated, 
through the common error of analysing a mere modifica- 
tion before the main action is fully understood ; which is 
much like trying to determine planetary perturbations 
before ascertaining the chief gravitations. This error was 
inevitable under Montesquieu's necessary ignorance of the 
great social laws, while he was bent upon introducing the 
positive spirit into the domain of politics. He naturally 
betook himself to the only class of social speculations 
which seemed fit for his purpose. Pardonable or un- 
avoidable as was his failure, it is a new evidence of the 
vast gap which lies open at the outset of the science. 
Montesquieu did not even perceive, any more than others, 
the fact which should regiiate the whole political theory 
of climate ; — that local physical causes, very powerful in 
the early days of civilization, lose their force in proportion 
as human development admits of their being neutralized : 
— a view which would certainly have occurred to Montes- 
quieu if he had possessed himself of the fundamental 
notion of human progression before he treated of the 
political theory of climate. Thus, this great philosopher 
proposed a grand enterprise which was premature in two 
senses, and in which he could not but fail, — first, by bring- 
ing social phenomena under the operation of the positive 
spirit before it had been introduced into the system of 
biological science; and again, in proposing social reor- 
ganization during a period marked out for revolutionary 
action. This explains why a mind so eminent should have 
exercised, through its very advancement, an immediate in- 
fluence very inferior to that of a mere sophist, like Rous- 
seau, whose intellectual state, much better adapted to the 
disposition of his contemporaries, allowed him to consti- 
tute himself, with so remarkable a success, the natural 
organ of the revolutionary movement of the time. It is 
by our posterity that Montesquieu will be duly estimated, 
when the extension of the positive philosophy to social 
speculations will disclose the high value of the precocious 

- "N 


attempts which, though doomed to failure, yield the light 
by which the general question must be laid down. 

After Montesquieu, the next great addi- c d t 
tion to Sociology (which is the term I may 
be allowed to invent to designate Social Physics) was 
made by Condorcet, proceeding on the views suggested by [ 
his illustrious friend Turgot. Turgot's suggestions with 
regard to the theory of the perfectibility of human nature 
were doubtless the basis of Condorcet' s speculation ex- 
hibited in his " Historical Sketch of the Progress of the . 
Human Mind," in which the scientific conception of the ] 
social progression of the race was, for the first time, clearly 
and directly proposed, with a distinct assertion of its primary 
importance. The strength of the work lies in its introduc- 
tion, in which Condorcet exhibits his general idea, and pro- 
poses his philosophical project of studying the radical con- 
nection of the various social states of mankind. These few 
immortal pages leave really nothing to be desired in regard 
to the position of the sociological question at large, which 
will, in my opinion, rest, through all future time, on this 
admirable statement. The execution is far from corre- 
sponding with the greatness of the project ; but no failure 
in the carrying out can impair the value of the design. 
The success and the failure may both be easily accounted 
for by a consideration of the scientific and political know- 
ledge of the time. The expansion of the natural sciences, 
and especially of chemistry, during the second half of the. 
last century, had thoroughly established in the best minds 
of the period the idea of positive laws ; and the study of 
living bodies, in the departments of anatomy and taxonomy, 
if not of physiology, began to assume a truly scientific 
character. Condorcet's mind was rationally prepared by 
mathematical study, under the direction of 35'Alembert : 
by his philosophical position in society, he had all the 
advantage of the expansion of physico-chemical science 
then taking place ; and of the labours of Haller, Jussieu, 
Linnaeus, Buffon and Vicq-d'Azir in the principal depart- 
ments of biological knowledge ; and it was natural that he 
should conceive the enterprise of carrying into the specu- 
lative study of social phenomena the same positive method 
which, from the time of Descartes, had been regenerating 


the entire system of human knowledge. With equal 
advantages, and Lis higher order of genius, Montesquieu 
would, no doubt, have achieved higher results than he has 
left us. Still, even Condorcet's project was premature, 
though less so than that of Montesquieu; for a great 
deficiency remained in the imperfect state of biological 
knowledge, and especially in the exclusion of intellectual 
and moral phenomena from treatment by the positive 
method : and the unfortunate Condoreet did not live to 
see them assume their proper place. In their absence, he 
lost himseK in wanderings after an indefinite perfectibility, 
and chimerical and absurd anticipations. Such aberra- 
tions, afPecting such men, are a lesson to us as to the 
impossibility of unaided reason overleaping the intervals 
which have not been steadily explored in the gradual 
advance of the human mind. As to the political circum- 
stances of the time, — the idea of social progression was 
certainly more distinct and more firm in Condoreet' s than 
in Montesquieu's time : for the tendency of society to re- 
linquish the ancient social system was becoming evident, 
though the new system which was to succeed it was but 
vaguely suspected, even where it was not wholly miscon- 
ceived. The evil influence of the revolutionary doctrine is 
singularly exhibited in Condoreet* s work, in the form of 
an inconsistency which must strike every reader. The 
human race is there represented as having attained a vast 
degree of perfection at the close of the eighteenth century, 
while the author attributes an entirely retrogressive in- 
fluence to almost every doctrine, institution and pre- 
ponderant power throughout the whole past. Whereas, 
the total progress accomplished can be nothing else than 
the result of the various kinds of partial progress realized 
since the beginning of civilization, in virtue of the gradual 
onward course of human nature. Such a state of things 
as Condoreet describes would be nothing else than a per- 
petual miracle; and it is not to him, therefore, that we 
can look for any disclosure of the laws of human develop- 
ment, any appreciation of the transitory nature of the 
revolutionary philosophy, or any general conception of the 
future of society. . Here again we recognize the philo- 
sophical superiority of Montesquieu, who, not having 


Condorcet's opportunities of estimating the revolutionary 
spirit, had been able to free his mind from those critical 
prejudices in regard to the past which formed the views 
of all around him, and had injured his own earlier specu- 
lations. This brief survey of the labours of these great 
men shows us that the basis of true social science can be 
fixed only after the revolutionary spirit has begun to 
decline ; and thus the political, as well as the scientific 
indications of the subject point to our own time as that in 
which such a science is to be founded. Condorcet gave us 
a clear exposition of the nature of the enterprise ; but the 
whole accomplishment yet remains to be achieved. 

These t^^p attempts are really all that have been made 
in the right road to social science ; for they are the only 
speculations which have been based on the aggregate of 
historical facts. I shall have occasion, further on, to 
notice some attempts which are not worthy to rank with 
these, and which merely testify to the existing need of 
social science by showing how various are the directions in 
wliich it is sought. On one subject, however, I shall here 
make a few observations, in order to illustrate further the 
aim and spirit of my own efforts to constitute a basis for 
social science. That subject is the nature and object of 
what is called Political Economy. 

We cannot impute to political economists ... , 
any design to establish social science ; for it nomv^ ^^^" 
is the express assertion of the most classical 
among them that their subject is wholly distinct from, and 
independent of general political science. Yet, sincere as 
they doubtless are in their dogma of isolation, they are no 
less sincerely persuaded that they have applied the positive 
spirit to economical science; and they perpetually set 
forth their method as the type by which all social theories 
will be finally regenerated. As this pretension has ob- 
tained credit enough to procure the establishment of 
several professorships for this species of instruction, I find 
myself obliged to explain why it is that I cannot, as would 
be very desirable, propose to carry on my enterprise from 
the point reached by these philosophers, but must begin 
from the beginning. My criticism on political economy in 
this place is merely for the pm*pose of showing that it is 


not the philosophical creation that we want ; and I must 
refer to my exposition as a whole any objectors to my 
summary estimate of political economy. 

It is unfavourable to the philosophical pretensions of the 
economists that, being almost invariably lawyers or literary 
men, they have had no opportunity of discipline in that 
spirit of positive rationality which they suppose they have 
introduced into their researches. Precluded by their edu- 
cation from any idea of scientific observation of even the 
smallest phenomena, from any motion of natural laws, 
from all perception of what demonstration is, they must 
obviously be incapable of applying, impromptu, a method 
in which they have had no practice to the mos^ difficult of 
all analyses. The only philosophical preparation that they 
can show is a set of vague precepts of general logic, suscep- 
tible of no real use ; and thus, their conceptions present a 
purely metaphysical character. There is one great excep- 
tional case which I must at once exempt from this criticism, 
— that of the illustrious philosopher, Adam Smith, who 
made no pretension to found a new special science ; but 
merely proposed, (what he admirably achieved) to illustrate 
some leading points of social philosophy by luminous 
analyses relating to the division of employments, the func- 
tion of money, the general action of banks, etc., and other 
chief portions of the industrial developments of the human 
race. Though involved, like all his contemporaries, in the 
metaphysical philosophy, a mind of such quality as his 
could not, however distinguished in the metaphysical 
school, be blinded by its illusions, because his preparatory 
studies had impressed him with a sense of what constitutes 
a true scientific method, as is clearly proved by the valu- 
able sketches of the philosophical history of the sciences, 
and of astronomy in particular, which are published among 
his posthumous works. The economists have no right to 
claim Adam Smith as their authority while the whole dog- 
matic part of their science presents a merely metaphysical 
character, dressed up with special forms and a list of scien- 
tific terms, taken bodily from former philosophical exposi- 
tions, — as, for instance, from the theologico-metaphysical 
writings of Spinoza. The contemporary history of this so- 
called science confirms this judgment of its nature. The 


most certain signs of conceptions being scientific are con- 
tinuousness and fertility: and wlien existing works, in- 
stead of being the result and development of those that 
have gone before, have a character as personal as that of 
their authors, and bring the most fundamental ideas into 
question ; and when, again, the dogmatic constitution pro- 
vides for no real and sustained progress, but only for a 
barren reproduction of old controversies, it is clear that we 
are dealing with no positive doctrine whatever, but merely 
with theological or metaphysical dissertations. And this is 
the spectacle which political economy has presented for 
half a century past. If our economists were really the 
scientific successors of Adam Smith, they would show us 
where they had carried on and completed their master's 
doctrine, and what new discoveries they had added to his 
primitive surveys ; but looking with an impartial eye upon 
their disputes on the most elementary ideas of value, utility, 
production, etc., we might imagine ourselves present at the 
strangest conferences of the scholists of the Middle Ages 
about the attributes of their metaphysical entities ; which 
indeed economical conceptions resemble more and more, in 
proportion as they are dogmatized and refined upon. The 
result is both cases is, but too often, the perversion of the 
valuable indication of popular good sense, which become 
confused, inapplicable, and productive only of idle disputes 
about words. All intelligent men, for instance, understand 
what is meant by the terms product and producer ; but, 
from the time that economical metaphysics undertook to 
define them, the idea of production has become, through 
vicious generalizations, so indeterminate, that conscientious 
and clear writers are obliged to use circuitous explanations 
to avoid the use of terms which have become obscure and 
equivocal. Such abuse is analogous to that which meta- 
physics has introduced into the study of the human under- 
standing, with regard, for instance, to the general ideas of 
analysis and synthesis and the like. The avowal of the 
economists that their science is isolated from that of social 
philosophy in general, is itself a suflBcient confiimation of 
my judgment ; for it is a universal fact in social, as in bio- 
logical science, that all the various general aspects of the 
subject are scientifically one, and rationally inseparable, so 


that they cannot be illustrated but by each other. Thus, 
the economical or industrial analysis of society cannot be 
effected in the positive method, apart from its intellectual, 
moral, and political analysis, past and present. And thus 
does the boasted isolation of political economy testify to its 
being grounded on a metaphysical basis. 

This is the dogmatic aspect of the science. But it would 
be imjust to forget that, looking at this doctrine historically, 
and more with a political than a scientific view, it consti- 
tutes a final essential part of the system of critical philo- 
sophy, which has exercised an indispensable, though tran- 
sitory influence during the revolutionary period. Political 
Economy has borne an honourable share in this vast intel- 
lectual conflict, by thoroughly discrediting the industrial 
polity of the Middle Ages, which became more and more 
injurious, in its descent to our time, to the industry which 
it had once protected. Such is the credit due to Political 
Economy. Its worst practical fault is that, like the other 
portions of the metaphysical philosophy, it systematizes 
anarchy ; and the danger is only aggravated by its use of 
modem scientific forms. It has not been satisfied with 
criticising, in much too absolute a way, the industrial 
polity of the old European sovereignties, without which the 
industrial development of modem times could never have 
taken place : it goes far beyond this ; it sets up as a uni- 
versal dogma the absence of all regulating intervention 
whatever as the best means of promoting the spontaneous 
rise of society ; so that, on every serious occasion, this doc- 
trine can respond to urgent practical needs only by the 
uniform reproduction of this systematic negation. Because 
it perceives a natural tendency in society to arrange itself 
in a certain order, not seeing in this a suggestion of an 
order to be promoted by social arrangements, it preaches 
an absence of regulation which, if carried out to the limit 
of the principle, would lead to the methodical abolition of 
all government. But here we meet the compensating 
virtue that political economy insists on all human interest s 
being bound up together, and therefore susceptible of a 
permanent reconciliation. Though this may be simply the 
expression of the convictions of popular good sense, philo- 
Bophy owes a tribute of eternal gratitude to the economists 


for their excellent service in extinguishing the disastrous 
and immoral prejudice which concluded the amelioration of 
the condition of some to he obtained by the deterioration of I 

the condition of somebody else ; and that the total amount 
of wealth was always the same; which is as much as 
denying industrial development altogether. Notwithstand- 
ing this great service, political economy has dangerous 
tendencies through its opposition to the institution of all 
industrial discipline. As each serious diflBculty arises in 
the course of industrial development, political economy 
ignores it. In the great question of Machinery this is 
remarkably illustrated. This is one of the cases of incon- 
venience inherent in every industrial improvement, from its 
tendency to disturb, more or less, and for a longer or shorter 
time, the mode of life of the labouring classes. Instead of 
recognizing in the urgent remonstrances called forth by this 
chasm in our social order one of the most pminent and 
pressino: occasions for the application of social science, our 
economists can do nothing better than repeat, with pitiless 
pedantry, their barren aphorism of absolute industrial 
liberty. Without considering that all human questions, 
practically regarded, are reducible to mere questions of 
time, they venture to reply to all complaints that, in the 
long run, all classes, and especially the one most injured on 
the existing occasion, will enjoy a real and permanent 
amelioration ; a reply which will be regarded as derisive, as 
long as man's life is incapable of being indefinitely 
lengthened. Such a doctrine pubHshes its own weakness 
by showing its want of relation to the aggregate of our 
practical needs. Would the copyists who were thrown out 
of employment by the invention of printing have been 
completely consoled by being convinced that, in the next 
generation, there would be an equal number of persons 
living by printing, and many more in succeeding cen- 
turies ? Yet such is the consolation habitually offered by 
political economy ; and if there were no other evidence, 
this inefficiency would prove its unfitness to direct, as it 
proposes to do, the industrial expansion of modern society. 
And thus it stands condemned, as to its scientific preten- 
sions, and in spite of some important services, from the 
political as much as from the scientific ^ovot oi NAfc-^N . 

208 POSITIVE piiiLosoiaiv. 

The temporary predilection of men's minds for politic 
economy is, in truth, a new and strong illustration of tl 
instinctive need which prevails to subject social research* 
to positive methods; and if that were once done, tl 
interest in political economy would disappear. Yarioi 
other signs of the times testify to the same dispositio 
which indeed pervades the whole action of our intell 
gences. I wiU refer to only one among the multitude « 
those signs ; but it is one which aids in bringing about tl 
satisfaction of the need. I mean the growing incliuatic 
for historical study, and the great improvement in thi 
kind of research within two centuries. 
Growth of Bossuet was, unquestionably, the first wl 

historical proposed to survey, from a lofty point 

study, view, the whole of the past of society. "V\ 

cannot adopt his explanations, easily derived from theol 
gical resources ; but the spirit of universality, so thorough 
appreciated, and, under the circumstances, so wonderful 
sustained, will always preserve this admirable compositioi 
as a model, suggesting the true result of historical analysis ;- 
the rational co-ordination of the great series of hums 
events, according to a single design ; which must howev 
be more genuine and complete than that of Bossuet. The 
is no doubt that this fine piece of instruction has conti 
buted, during both the past and the present century, 
the improvement in the character of the chief historic 
compositions, especially in France and England, and aft€ 
wards in Germany. Still, history has more of a literal 
and descriptive than of a scientific character. It does n 
yet estiablish a rational filiation in the series of social eveni 
so as to admit (as in other sciences, and allowing for i 
greater complexity) of any degree of systematic previ«i( 
of their future succession. Perhaps the imputation 
rashness cast upon the mere proposal of such a treatmei 
of history is the strongest confirmation we could have 
its present unscientific character: for such prevision 
everywhere else admitted to be the ultimate scientific teg 
Another evidence exists in the easy credit daily obtain( 
by misty historical theories which explain nothing, ai 

^ ** Discourse on Universal History." 


which testify to the literary and metaphysical bias under 
which history is studied, by minds unacquainted with the 
great scientific movement of modem times. Again, another 
evidence is the dogmatic separation which it is attempted 
to keep up between history and politics. Still, we must 
admit the growing taste of our age -for historical labours 
to be a happy symptom of philosophical regeneration, how- 
ever the inclination may be wasted upon superficial and 
misleading works, sometimes written with a view to imme- 
diate popularity by ministering to the popular taste. One 
of the most promising incidents of the time is the intro- 
duction into the highly metaphysical class of jurists of an 
historical school which has undertaken to connect, during 
every period of history, the whole of its legislation with 
the corresponding state of society. 

If the preceding chapter disclosed the destination of the 
great philosophical creation of which I am treating, the 
present exhibits its necessity, and the opportuneness of the 
time. Attempts to constitute a science of society would 
not have been so obstinate, nor pursued in ways so various, 
if an instinctive need of it had not been deeply felt. At 
the same time, the general analysis of the chief efforts 
hitherto made explains their failure, and convinces us that 
the whole enterprise remains to be even conceived of in a 
manner which will secure its accomplishment. Nothing 
now prevents our going on to the fulfilment of this pro- 
posed task, by entering, in the next chapter, on the study 
of the method in Social Physics. We have so ascertained 
and cleared our ground, by first taking a survey of our 
condition from a political point of view, and then reviewing 
the preparation made, that we are at full liberty to follow 
the speculative development that will prevail throughout 
the rest of this book, which will close with the co-ordination 
between the theory and practice of Social Physics. 





IN every science conceptions which relate to method are 
inseparable from those which relate to the doctrine 
under consideration. The method has to be so varied in 
its application, and so largely modified by the complexity 
and special nature of the phenomena, in each case, that 
any general notions of method would be too indefinite for 
actual use. If, therefore, we have not separated the method 
from the doctrine in the simpler departments of science, 
much less should we think of doing so when treating of 
the complex phenomena of social life, to say nothing of 
the great feature of this last case, — its want of positivity. 
In the formation of a new science the general spirit of it 
must be seized before its particular parts can be investi- 
gated : that is, we must have some notion of the doctrine 
before examining the method, and then the method cannot 
be estimated in any other way than by its use. Thus, I 
have not to offer a logical exposition of method in social 
physics before proceeding to the science itself ; but I must 
follow the same plan here as in the case of the anterior 
sciences, — ascertaining its general spirit, and what are the 
collective resources proper to it. Though these subjects 
may be said to belong to the science itself, we may consider 
them as belonging to the method, as they are absolutely 
necessary to direct our understandings in the pursuit of 
this difficult study. 

In the higher order of sciences, — in those which are the 
simplest and the most advanced, — the philosophical defini- 
tion of each was almost sufficient to characterize their con- 
dition and general resources, to which no doubt could 
attach. But the case is otherwise with a recent and 
extremely complex study, the very nature of which has to 
be settled by laborious discussions, which are happily 


needless in regard to the preceding sciences. In treating 
of Biology, we found it necessary to dwell upon preparatory 
explanations which would have seemed puerile in any of 
the foregoing departments, because the chief bases of a 
science about which there were still so many disputes must 
be indisputably settled before it could take rank in the 
positive series. It is evident that the same process is even 
more needful, and must be more laborious, in the case of 
the science of social development, which has hitherto had 
no character of positivity at all, and which some of the 
ablest minds of our time sentence never to have any. We 
must not be surprised then if, after applying here the 
simplest and most radical ideas of positive philosophy, such 
as would indeed appear trivial in their formal application 
to the more advanced sciences, the result should appear to 
many, even among the enlightened, to constitute too bold 
an innovation, though the conditions may be no more than 
the barest equivalent of those which are admitted in every 
other case. 

If we look with a philosophical eye upon infantile state 
the present state of social science, we cannot of social 
but recognize in it the combination of all the science, 
features of that theologico-metaphysical infancy which all 
the other sciences have had to pass through. The present 
condition of political science revives before our eyes the 
analogy of what astrology was to astronomy, alchemy to 
chemistry, and the search for the universal panacea to the 
system of medical studies. We may, for our present pur- 
pose, consider the theological and the metaphysical polities 
together, — the second being only a modification of the first 
in its relation to social science. Their attributes are the 
same, consisting, in regard to method, in the preponderance 
of imagination over observation ; and, in regard to doctrine, 
in the exclusive investigation of absolute ideas ; the result 
of both of which is an inevitable tendency to exercise an 
arbitrary and indefinite action over phenomena which are 
not regarded as subject to invariable natural laws. In 
short, the general spirit of all speculation at that stage is 
at once ideal in its course, absolute in its conception, and 
arbitrary in its application ; and these are unquestionably 
the prevailing characteristics of social speculation at present, 



regarded from any point of view whatever. If we reverse 
all the three aspects, we shall have precisely the spirit 
which must actuate the formation of positive sociology, 
and which must afterwards direct its continuous develop- 
ment. The scientific spirit is radically distinguished from 
the theological and metaphysical by the steady subordina- 
tion of the imagination to observation; and though the 
positive philosophy offers the vastest and richest field to 
human imagination, it restricts it to dibcovering and per- 
fecting the co-ordination of observed facts, and the means 
of effecting new researches : and it is this habit of subject- 
ing scientific conceptions to the facts whose connection has 
to be disclosed, which it is above all things necessary to 
introduce into social researches; for the observations 
hitherto made have been vague and ill-circumscribed, so 
as to afford no adequate foundation for scientific reasoning ; 
and they are usually modified themselves at the pleasure 
of an imagination stimulated by the most fluctuating 
passions. From their complexity, and their closer connec- 
tion with human passions, political speculations must be 
detained longer than any others in this deplorable philo- 
sophical condition, in which they are still involved, while 
simpler and less stimulating sciences have successively 
obtained emancipation ; but we must remember that all 
other kinds of scientific conception have gone through the 
same stage, from which they have issued with the more 
diflSculty and delay exactly in proportion to their complexity 
and special nature. It is, indeed, only in our own day that 
the more complex have issued from that condition at all, 
as we saw to be the case with the intellectual and moral 
phenomena of individual life, which are still studied in a 
way almost as anti-scientific as political phenomena them- 
selves. We must not, then, consider that uncertainty and 
vagueness in observation are proper to political subjects. 
It is only that the same imperfection which has had its 
day throughout the whole range of speculation is here 
more intense and protracted ; and the same theory which 
shows how this must be the case gives us full assurance of 
a philosophical regeneration in this department of science 
analogous to that which has taken place in the rest, though 
by means of severer intellectual difficulty, and the embar- 


rassment which may arise from collision with the pre- 
dominant passions of men ; a liability which cannot but 
stimulate the endeavours of real thinkers. 

If we contemplate the positive spirit in its The relative 
relation to scientific conception, rather than superseding 4- 

the mode of procedure, we shall find that *h® absolute. i 

this philosophy is distingidshed from the theologico- 
metaphysical by its tendency to render relative the ideas 
which were at first absolute. This inevitable passage from 
the absolute to the relative is one of the most important 
philosophical results of each of the intellectual revolutions 
which has carried on every kind of speculation from the 
theological or metaphysical to the scientific state. In a 
scientific view, this contrast between the relative and the 
absolute may be regarded as the most decisive manifesta- 
tion of the antipathy between the modem philosophy and 
the ancient. All investigation into the nature of beings, 
and their first and final causes, must always be absolute ; 
whereas the study of the laws of phenomena must be i J 
relative, since it supposes a continuous progress of specu- 
lation subject to the gradual improvement of observation, 
without the precise reality being ever fully disclosed : so 
that the relative character of scientific conceptions is in- 
separable from the true idea of natural laws, just as the 
chimerical inclination for absolute knowledge accompanies 
every use of theological fictions and metaphysical entities. 
Now, it is obvious that the absolute spirit characterizes 
social speculation now, wherever it exists, as the different 
schools are all agreed in looking for an immutable political 
type, which makes no allowance for the regular modifica- 
tion of political conceptions according to the variable state 
of civilization. This absolute spirit, having prevailed 
through all social changes, and their corresponding philo- 
sophical divergences, is now so inherent in existing political 
science that it affords, amidst all its enormous evils, the 
only means of restraining individual eccentricities, and 
excluding the influx of arbitrarily variable opinions. Thus, 
such philosophers as have desired to emancipate them- 
selves from this absolutism, without having risen to the 
conception of a positive social philosophy, have justly 
incurred the reproach of representing political ideas as 


uncertain and even arbitrary in their nature, because they 
have deprived them of whatever character of consistency 
they had, without substituting any other. They have 
even cast a sort of dis(».redit upon all philosophical enter- 
prise in the direction of political science, which, losing its 
absolutism, seemed to lose its stability, and therefore its 
morality. A positive sociology, however, would put to 
flight all these natural, though empirical fears; for all 
antecedent experience shows that in other departments of 
natural philosophy, scientific ideas have not become arbi- 
trary by becoming relative, but have, on the contrary, 
acquired a new consistence and stability by being impli- 
cated in a system of relations which is ever extending and 
strengthening, and more and more restraining all serious 
aberration. There is therefore no fear of falling into a 
dangerous scepticism by destroying the absolute spirit, if 
it is done in the natural course of passing on towards the 
positive state. Here, as elsewhere, it is characteristic of 
the positive philosophy to destroy no means of intellectual 
co-ordination without substituting one more effectual and 
more extended ; and it is evident that this transition from 
the absolute to the relative offers the only existing means 
of attaining to political conceptions that can gradually 
secure an unanimous and permanent assent. 

The importance and soundness of these conditions are 
less conspicuous than they might be, on account of the 
too close connection which, in social science more than any 
other, still exists between theory and practice, in conse- 
quence of which all speculative and abstract appreciation, 
however supremely important, excites only a feeble interest 
and inadequate attention. To show how this confusion 
results from the imperfection of social science, as the most 
complex of all, we must look at the existing political spirit 
in relation to its general application, and not for the 
moment in relation to the science itself. In this view we 
Presumptuous ^^® ^^^^ *^^ existing political spirit is marked 
character of by its disposition to exercise an illimitable 
the existing action over the corresponding phenomena, 
pohtical spint. ^^g -^ ^^^g ^^^^ supposed possible to do in 

other departments of philosophy. Men were long in 
learning that Man's power of modifying phenomena can 



result only from his knowledge of their natural laws ; and 
in the infancy of each science, they believed themselves 
able to exert an unbounded influence over the phenomena 
of that science. As this happened precisely at the period 
when they had the least power over phenomena, from 
ignorance of their laws, they rested their confidence on 
expectations of aid from supernatural agents, or mysterious 
forces supposed to be inherent in all that they saw. The 
delusion was protracted, and the growth of true science 
hindered in proportion, by the increasing complexity of 
the descending sciences, as each order of phenomena 
exhibited less generality than the last, and obscured the 
perception as to what the modifying power of Man really 
is. Social phenomena are, of course, from their extreme 
complexity, the last to be freed from this pretension ; but 
it is therefore only the more necessary to remember that 
the pretension existed with regard to all the rest, in their 
earliest stage, and to anticipate therefore that social science 
will, in its turn, be emancipated from the delusion. It 
still hangs about the class of intellectual and moral 
phenomena; but otherwise it is now confined to social 
subjects. There, amidst the dawning of a sounder philo- 
sophy, we see statesmen and politicians still supposing -^ 
that social phenomena can be modified at will, the human 
race having, in their view, no spontaneous impulsion, but 
being always ready to jrield to any influence of the legis- 
lator, spiritual or temporal, provided he is invested with a 
sufficient authority. We see the theological polity, as 
before, more consistent than the metaphysical, explaining 
the monstrous disproportion between slight causes and 
vast effects, by regarding the legislator as merely the 
organ of a supernatural and absolute power: and again, 
we see the metaphysical school following the same course, 
merely substituting for Providence its unintelligible en- 
tities, and especially its grand entity. Nature, which com- 
prehends all the rest, and is evidently only an abstract 
deterioration of the theological principle. Going further 
than the theological school in its disdain of the subjection 
of effects to causes, it escapes from difficulty by attributing 
observed events to chauce, and sometimes, when that method 
is too obviously absurd, exaggerating ridiculously the in- 

- \ 


fluence of the individual mind upon the course of human 
affairs. The result is the same in both cases. It repre- 
sents the social action of Man to be indefinite and arbi- 
trary, as was once thought in regard to biological, chemical, 
l^hysical, and even astronomical phenomena, in the earlier 
stages of their respective sciences. It is easy to see that 
true political science would be imacceptable, because it 
must impose limits on political action, by dissipating for 
ever the pretension of governing at will this class of 
phenomena, and withdrawing them from human or super- 
human caprice. In close connection with the tendency to 
absolute conceptions, we must recognize in this delusion 
the chief intellectual cause of the social disturbance which 
now exists ; for the human race finds itself delivered over, 
without logical protection, to the ill-regulated experimenta- 
tion of the various political schools, each one of which 
strives to set up, for all future time, its own immutable 
type of government. We have seen what are the chaotic 
results of such a strife : and we shall find that there is no 
chance of order and agreement but in subjecting social 
phenomena, like all others, to invariable natural laws, 
which shall, as a whole, prescribe for each period, with 
entire certainty, the limits and character of political ac- 
tion : — in other words, introducing into the study of social 
phenomena the same positive spirit which has regenerated 
every other branch of human speculation. Such a pro- 
cedure is the true scientific basis of human dignity ; as the 
chief tendencies of man's nature thus acquire a solemn 
character of authority which must be always respected by 
rational legislation ; whereas the existing belief in the in- 
definite power of political combinations, which seems at 
first to exalt the importance of Man, issues in attributing 
to him a sort of social automatism passively directed by 
some supremacy of either Providence or the human ruler. 
I have said enough to show that the central difficulty in 
the task of regenerating political science is to rectify such 
an error of conception, at a time when our prevailing 
intellectual habits render it difficult to seize social con- 
ceptions in any other than their practical aspect, and 
when their scientific, and yet more, their logical relations 
a,re obscured by the prepossesaionft oi \\i^ ^er^et^TOLmd. 


The last of the preliminary considerations Prevision of 
that we have to review is that of the scientific social pheno- 
prevision of phenomena, which, as the test ^^^na. 
of true science, includes all the rest. We have to con- 
template social phenomena as susceptible of prevision, like 
all other classes, within the limits of exactness compatible 
with their higher complexity. Comprehending the three 
characteristics of political science which we have been 
examining, prevision of social phenomena supposes first, 
that we have abandoned the region of metaphysical ideali- 
ties, to assume the ground of observed realities by a 
systematic subordination of imagination to observation ; 
secondly, that political conceptions have ceased to be abso- 
lute, and have become relative to the variable state of 
civilization, so that theories, following the natural course 
of facts, may admit of our foreseeing them ; and, thirdly, 
that permanent political action is limited by determinate 
laws, since, if social events were always exposed to dis- 
turbance by the accidental intervention of the legislator, 
human or divine, no scientific prevision of them would be 
possible. Thus, we may concentrate the conditions of 
the spirit of positive social philosophy on this one great 
attribute of scientific prevision. This concentration is all 
the more apt for the purpose of our inquiry, because there 
is no other view in which the new social philosophy is so 
clearly distinguished from the old. Events ordered by a 
supernatural will may leave room for a supposition of 
revelation ; but the very thought of prevision in that case 
is sacrilegious : and the case is essentially the same when 
the direction of events is assigned to metaphysical entities, 
except that it leaves the chance of revelation ; the exist- 
ence of which chance shows that the metaphysical concep- 
tion is a mere modification of the theological. The old 
conceptions may evidently be applied to explain opposite 
facts equally well ; and they can never afford the slightest 
indication of those which are vet future. And, if it be 
objected that, at all times, a great number of secondary 
political facts have been considered susceptible of prevision, 
this only proves that the old philosophy has never been 
strictly universal, but has always been tempered by an 
admixture of feeble and imperfect -^o^y^j^Sskoi, -siriikjkSixs^ 


more or less of which society could not have held on its 
course. This admixture has, however, been hitherto in- 
sufficient to allow anything worthy the name of prevision, 
— anything more than a sort of popular forecast of some 
secondary and partial matters, — never rising above an un- 
certain and rough empiricism, which might be of some 
provisional use, but could not in any degree supply the 
need of a true political philosophy. 

Having now ascertained the fundamental position of the 
problems of political philosophy, and thus obtained guid- 
ance as to the scientific aim to be attained, the next step is 
to exhibit the general spirit of Social Physics, whose con- 
ditions we have been deciding. 

« . •. r C3 -1 T^® philosophical principle of the science 
Science ^^^^ being that social phenomena are subject to 

natural laws, admitting of rational prevision, 
we have to ascertain what is the precise subject, and what 
the peculiar character of those laws. The distinction be- 
tween the Statical and Dynamical conditions of the subject 
must be extended to social science ; and I shall treat of the 
conditions of social existence as, in biology, I treated of 
organization under the head of anatomy ; and then of the 
laws of social movement, as in biology of those of life, 
under the head of physiology. This division, necessary for 
exploratory purposes, must not be stretched beyond that 
use : and, as we saw in Biology, that the distinction be- 
comes weaker with the advance of science, so shall we see 
that when the science of social physics is fully constituted, 
this division will remain for analytical purposes, but not 
as a real separation of the science into two parts. The 
distinction is not between two classes of facts, but between 
two -aspects of a theory. It corresponds with the double 
conception of order and progress : for order consists (in a 
positive sense) in a permanent harmony among the condi- 
tions of social existence ; and progress consists in social 
development; and the conditions in the one case, and 
the laws of movement in the other, constitute the statics 
and dynamics of social physics. — And here we find again 
the constant relation between the science and the art, — the 
theory and the practice. A science which proposes a posi- 
tive study of the laws of order and of progress cannot be 


charged with speculative rashness by practictal men of any 
intelligence, since it offers the only rational basis for the 
practical means of satisfying the needs of society, as to 
order and progress ; and the correspondence in this case 
will be found to be analogous to that which we have seen 
to exist between biological science and the arts which 
relate to it, — the medical art especially. — One view of the 
deepest interest in this connection is that the ideas of 
order and progress which are in perpetual conflict in existing 
society, occasioning infinite disturbance, are thus reconciled, 
and made necessary to each other, becoming as truly insepar- 
able as the ideas of organization and life in the individual 
being. The further we go in the study of the conditions of 
human society, the more clearly will the organizing and pro- 
gressive spirit of the positive philosophy become manifest. 

The statical study of sociology consists in «, .. , , , 
the investigation or the laws of action and 
reaction of the different parts of the social system, — ^apart, 
for the occasion, from the fundamental movement which 
is always gradually modifying them. In this view, socio- 
logical prevision, founded upon the exact general knowledge 
of those relations, acts by judging by each other the 
various statical indications of each mode of social existence, 
in conformity with direct observation, — just as is done 
daily in the case of anatomy. This view condemns the 
existing philosophical practice of contemplating social 
elements separately, as if they had an independent 
existence; and it leads us to regard them as in mutual 
relation, and forming a whole which compels us to treat 
them in combination. By this method, not only are 
we furnished with the only possible basis for the study of 
social movement, but we are put in possession of an impor- 
tant aid to direct observation ; since many social elements 
which cannot be investigated by immediate observation may 
be estimated by their scientific relation to others already 
known. When we have a scientific knowledge of the in- 
terior relation of the parts of any science or art; and 
again, of the relations of the sciences to each other : and 
again, of the relations of arts to their respective sciences, 
the observation of certain portions of the scheme enables 
us to pronounce on the state of other portions, with a true 



philosophical security. The case is the same when, instead of 
studying the collective social phenomena of a single nation, 
we include in the study those of contemporary nations, 
whose reciprocal influence cannot be disputed, though it is 
much reduced in modern times, and, as in the instance of 
western Europe and eastern Asia, apparently almost effaced. 
. The only essential case in which this 
zation ^^^^ fundamental relation is misconceived or 

neglected is that which is the most im- 
portant of all, — ^involving, as it does, social organization, 
properly so called. The theory of social organization is 
still conceived of as absolute and isolated, independent 
altogether of the general analysis of the corresponding 
civilization, of which it can, in fact, constitute only one of 
the principal elements. This vice is chargeable in an 
almost equal degree upon the most opposite political 
schools, which agree in abstract discussions of political 
systems, without thinking of the coexisting state of civiliza- 
tion, and usually conclude with making their immutable 
political type coincide with an infantile state of human 
development. If we ascend to the philosophical source of 
this error, we shall find it, -I think, in the great theological 
doema of the Fall of Man. This fundamental dogma, 
which reappears, in one form or another, in all religions, 
and which is supported in its intellectual influence by the 
natural propensity of men to admire the past, tends, 
directly and necessarily, to make the continuous deteriora- 
tion of society coincide with the extension of civilization. 
We have noticed before how, when it passes from the 
theological into the metaphysical state, this dogma takes 
the form of the celebrated hypothesis of a chimerical state 
of nature, superior to the social state, and the more 
remote, the further we advance in civilization. We cannot 
fail to perceive the extreme seriousness, in a political as 
well as a philosophical sense, of an error so completely in- 
corporated with existing doctrines, and so deeply in- 
fluencing, in an unconscious way, our collective social 
speculations, — the more disastrously perhaps for not being 
expressly maintained as a general principle. — If it were so 
presented, it must immediately give way before sound 
philosophical discussion; for it is in direct contradiction 


to many ideas in political philosophy which, without having 
attained any scientific consistency, are obtaining some in- 
tellectual ascendancy, through the natural course of events, 
or the expansion of the general mind. For instance, all 
enlightened political writers acknowledge more or less 
mutual relation between political institutions ; and this is 
the first direct step towards the rational conception of the 
agreement of the special system of institutions with the 
total system of civilization. We now see the Political and 
best thinkers admitting a constant mutual social concui- 
connection between the political and the civil rence. 
power: which means, in scientific language, that pre- 
ponderating social forces always end in assuming the 
direction of society. Such partial advances towards a 
right view, — such fortunate feeling after the right path, 
must not, however, induce us to relax in our requirements 
of a true philosophical conception of that general social 
agreement which can alone constitute organization. Desul- 
tory indications, more literary than scientific, can never 
supply the place of a strict philosophical doctrine, as we 
may see from the fact that, from Aiistotle downwards, 
(and even from an earlier period,) the greater number of 
philosophers have constantly reproduced the famous 
aphorism of the necessary subordination of laws to 
manners, without this germ of sound philosophy having 
had any effect on the general habit of regarding institu- 
tions as independent of the coexisting state of civiliza- 
tion, — however strange it may seem that such a contradic- 
tion should live through twenty centuries. This is, how- 
ever, the natural course with intellectual principles and 
philosophical opinions, as well as with social manners and 
political institutions. When once they have obtained 
possession of men's minds, they live on, notwithstanding 
their admitted impotence and inconvenience, giving occa- 
sion to more and more serious inconsistencies, till the 
expansion of human reason originates new principles, of 
equivalent generality and superior rationality. We must 
not therefore take for more than their worth the desultorv 
attempts that we see made in the right direction, but must 
insist on the principle which lies at the heart of every 
scheme of social organization, — the necessary participation 


of the collective political regime in the universal consensus 
of the social body. 

The scientific principle of the relation between the 
political and the social condition is simply this; — that 
there must always be a spontaneous harmony between the 
whole and the parts of the social system, the elements of 
which must inevitably be, sooner or later, combined in a 
mode entirely conformable to their nature. It is evident 
that not only must political institutions and social manners 
on the one hand, and manners and ideas on the other, be 
always mutually connected ; but, further, that this con- 
solidated whole must be always connected, by its nature, 
with the corresponding state of the integral development 
of humaiiity, considered in all its aspects, of intellectual, 
moral, and physical activity : and the only object of any 
political system whatever, temporal or spiritual, is to ^ 
regulate the spontaneous expansion so as best to direct it 
towards its determinate end. Even during revolutionary 
periods, when the harmony appears furthest from being 
duly realized, it still exists : for without it there would be 
a total dissolution of the social organism. During those 
exceptional seasons, the political regime is still, in the long 
run, in conformity with the corresponding state of civiliza- 
tion, as the disturbances which are manifest in the one 
proceed from equivalent derangements in the other. It is 
observable that when the popular theory attributes to the 
legislator the permanent power of infringing the harmony 
we are speaking of, it supposes him to lie armed with a 
sufficient authority. But every social power, whether 
called authority or anything else, is constituted by a cor- 
responding assent, spontaneous or deliberate, explicit or 
implicit, of various individual wills, resolved, from certain 
preparatory convictions, to concur in a common action, of 
which this power is first the organ, and then the regulator. 
Thus, authority is derived from concurrence, and not con- 
currence from authority, (setting aside the necessary re- 
action :) so that no great power can arise otherwise than 
from the strongly prevalent disposition of the society in 
which it exists: and when there is no strong prepon- 
derance, such powers as exist are weak accordingly : and 
the more extensive the society, the more irresistible is the 


correspondence. On the other hand, there is no denying 
the influence which, by a necessary reaction, the political 
system, as a whole, exercises over the general system of 
civilization, and which is so often exhibited in the action, 
fortunate or disastrous, of institutions, measures, or purely 
political events, even upon the course of the sciences and 
arts, in all ages of society, and especially the earliest. We 
need not dwell on this ; for no one denies it. The common 
error, indeed, is to exaggerate it, so as to place the reac- 
tion before the primary action. It is evident, considering 
their scientific relation to each other, that both concur in 
creating that fundamental agreement of the social organism 
which I propose to set forth in a brief manner, as the 
philosophical principle of statical sociology. We shall 
have to advert repeatedly to the subject of the general 
correspondence between the political regime and the con- 
temporary state of civilization, in connection with the 
question of the necessary limits of political action, and in 
the chapter which I must devote to social statics : but I 
did not think fit to wait for these explanations before 
pointing out that the political system ought always to be 
regarded as relative. The relative point of view, substi- 
tuted for the absolute tendency of the ordinary theories, 
certainly constitutes the chief scientific character of the 
positive philosophy in its political application. If, on the i 
one hand, the conception of this connection between ! 
government and civilization presents all ideas of political 
good or evil as necessarily relative and variable (which is .' 
quite another thing than being arbitrary), on the other 
hand, it provides a rational basis for a positive theory of . 

the spontaneous order of human society, already vaguely ; •y' 
perceived, in regard to some minor relations, by that part \ 
of the metaphysi(jal polity which we call political economy ; i 
for, if the value of any political system can consist in ' 
nothing but its harmony with the corresponding social 
state, it follows that in the natural course of events, and 
in the absence of intervention, such a harmony must 
necessarily be established. 

There are two principal considerations interconnection 
which induce me to insist on this elemen- of the social 
tary idea of the radical consensus proper to organism. 


the social organism : first, the extreme philosophical im- 
portance of this master-thought of social statics, which 
must, from its nature, constitute the rational basis of any 
new political philosophy ; and, secondly, in an accessory 
way, that dynamical considerations of sociology must 
prevail throughout the rest of this work, as being at pre- 
sent more interesting, and therefore better understood; 
and it is, on that account, the more necessary to charac- 
terize now the general spirit of social statics, which will 
henceforth be treated only in an indirect and implicit way. 
As all artificial and voluntary order is simply a prolonga- 
tion of the natural and involuntary order to which all 
human society tends, every rational political institution 
must rest upon an exact preparatory analysis of corre- 
spondiDg spontaneous tendencies, which alone can furnish 
a sufficiently solid basis. In brief, it is our business to 
contemplate order, that we may perfect it; and not to 
create it ; which would be impossible. In a scientific view, 
this master-thought of universal social interconnection be- 
comes the consequence and complement of a fundamental 
idea established, in our view of biology, as eminently 
proper to the study of living bodies. Not that this idea 
I of interconnection is peculiar to that study: it is neces- 
sarily common to all phenomena; but amidst immense 
differences in intensity and variety, and therefore in philo- 
sophical importance. It is, in fact, true that wherever 
-) there is any system whatever, a certain interconnection 
must exists The purely mechanical phenomena of astro- 
nomy offer the first suggestion of ft ; for the perturbations 
of one planet may sensibly affect another, through a modi- 
fied gravitation. But the relation becomes closer and more 
marked in proportion to the complexity and diminished 
generality of the phenomena, and thus, it is in organic 
systems that we must look for the fullest mutual connec- 
tion.^ Hitherto, it had been merely an accessory idea ; but 
then it becomes the basis of positive conceptions ; and it 
becomes more marked, the more compound are the 
organisms, and the more complex the phenemena in ques- 
tion, — the animal interconnection being more complete 
than the vegetable, and the human more than the brute ; 
the nervous system being the chief seat of the biological 


interconnection. -^The idea must therefore be scientifically 
preponderant in social physics, even more than in biology, 
where it is so decisively recognized by the best order of 
students. But the existing political philosophy supposes 
the absence of any such int.erconnection among the aspects 
of society : and it is this which has rendered it necessary 
for me now to establish the poinft — leaving the illustra- 
tion of it to a future portion of the volume. Its con- 
sideration is, in fact, as indispensable in assigning its 
encyclopsedic rank to social science as we before saw it to 
be in instituting Social Physics a science at all. 

It follows from this attribute that^here can be no 
scientific studv of society, either in its conditions or its 
movements, if it is separated into portions, and its divi- 
sions are studied apart.^ I have already remarked upon 
this, in regard to what is called political economy. Mate- 
rials may be furnished^^ by the observation of different 
departments ; and such observation may be necessary for 
that object: but it cannot be called science. '^he methodi- 
cal division of studies which takes place in the simple 
inoi^anic sciences is thoroughly irrational in the recent 
and complex science of society, and can produce no results. 
The day may come when some sort of subdivision may be 
practicable and desirable ; but it is impossible for us dow 
to anticipate what the principle of distribution may be ; 
for the principle itself must arise from the development of 
the science ; and that development can take place no other- 
wise than by our formation of the science as a wholes The 
complete body will indicate for itself, at the right season, 
the particular points which need investigation ; and then 
will be the time for such special study as may be required. 
By any other method of proceeding, we shall only find 
ourselves encumbered with special discussions, badly insti- 
tuted, worse pursued, and accomplishing no other purpose 
than that of impeding the formation of real science. It is 
no easy matter to study social phenomena in the only 
right way, — viewing each element in the light of the whole 
system. It is no easy matter to exercise such vigilance as 
that no one of the number of contemporary aspects shall 
be lost sight of. But it is the right and the only way ; 
and we may perceive in it a clear suggestion that this 
' II. Q 


lofty study should be reserved for the highest order of 
scientific minds, better prepared than others, by wise 
educational discipline, for sustained speculative efforts, 
aided by an habitual subordination of the passions to the 
reason. There is no need to draw out any lengthened 
comparison between this state of things as it should be 
and that which is. And no existing degree of social dis- 
turbance can surprise us when we consider how intellectual 
anarchy is at the bottom of such disturbance, and see bow 
anarchical our intellectual condition appears in the pre- 
sence of the principle I have laid down. 
^ , . Before we go on to the subject of social 

ticaf steady dynamics, I will just remark that the promi- 
nent interconnection we have been consider- 
ing prescribes a procedure in organic studies different 
from that which suits inorganic. The metaphysicians 
announce as an aphorism that we should always, in every 
kind of study, proceed from the simple to the compound : 
whereas, it appears most rational to suppose that we 
should follow that or the reverse method, as may best suit 
our subject. There can be no absolute merit in the method 
enjoined, apart from its suitableness. The rule should 
rather be (and there probably was a time when the two 
rules were one) that we must proceed from the more 
known to the less. Now, in the inorganic sciences, the 
elements are much better known to us than the whole 
which they constitute : so that in that case we must pro- 
ceed from the simple to the compound. But the reverse 
method is necessary in the study of Man and of Society ; 
Man and Society as a whole being better knowli to us, and 
more accessible subjects of study, than the parts which 
constitute them. In exploring the universe, it is as a 
whole that it is inaccessible to us ; whereas, in investi- 
gating Man or Society, our difficulty is in penetrating the 
details. We have seen, in our survey of biology, that the 
general idea of animal nature is more distinct to our 
minds than the simpler notion of vegetable nature ; and 
that man is the biological unity ; the idea of Man being 
at once the most compound, and the starting-point of 
speculation in regard to vital existence. Thus, if we com- 
pare the two halves of natural philosophy, we shall find 


that in the one case it is the last degree of composition, 
».nd, in the other, the last degree of simplicity, that is 
beyond the scope of our research. As for the rest, it may 
obviate some danger of idle discussions to say that the 
positive philosophy, subordinating all fancies to reality, 
excludes logical controversies about the absolute value of 
this or that method, apart from its scientific application. 
The only ground of preference being the superior adapta- 
tion of any means to the proposed end. this philosophy 
may, without any inconsistency, change its order of pro- 
ceeding when the one first tried is found to be inferior to 
its converse: — a discovery of which there is no fear in 
regard to the question we have now been examining. 

Passing on from statical to dynamical 
sociology, we will contemplate the philoso- studv™^^^ 
phical conception which should govern our 
study of the movement of society. Part of this subject is 
already despatched, from the explanations made in con- 
nection with statics having simplified the chief difficulties 
of the case. And social dynamics will be so prominent 
throughout the rest of this work, that I may reduce within 
very small compass what I have to say now under that 

Though the statical view of society is the basis of socio- 
logy, the dynamical view is not only the more interesting 
of the two, but the more marked in its philosophical cha- 
racter, from its being more distinguished from biology by 
the master-thought of continuous progress, or rather, of 
the gradual development of humanity. If I were writing 
a methodical treatise on political philosophy, it would be 
necessary to offer a preliminary analysis of the individual 
impulsions which make up the progressive force of the 
human race, by referring them to that instinct which results 
from the concurrence of all our natural tendencies, and 
which urges man to develope the whole of his life, physical, 
moral, and intellectual, as far as his circumstances allow. 
But this view is admitted by all enlightened philosophers ; 
so that I must proceed at once to consider the continuous 
succession of human development, regarded in the whole 
race, as if humanity were one. For clearness, we may take 
advantage of Condorcet's device of supposing a single nation 


to which we may refer all the consecutive social modifica- 
tions actually witnessed among distinct peoples. This 
rational fiction is nearer the reality than we are accustomed 
to suppose ; for, in a political view, the true successors of 
such or such a people are certainly those who, taking up 
and carrying out their primitive endeavours, have pro- 
longed their social progress, whatever may be the soil 
which they inhabit, or even the race from which they 
spring. In brief, it is political continuity which regulates 
sociological succession, though the having a common 
country must usually affect this continuity in a high 
degree. As a scientific artifice merely, however, I shall 
employ this hypothesis, and on the ground of its manifest 

^. . , The true general spirit of social dynamics 

continuitv. *^®^ consists in conceiving of each of these 
consecutive social states as the necessary 
result of the preceding, and the indispensable mover of the 
following, according to the axiom of Leibnitz, — the present 
is big with the future. In this view, the object of science is 
to discover the laws which govern this continuity, and the 
aggregate of which determines the course of human develop- 
ment. In short, social dynamics studies the laws of suc- 
cession, while social statics inquires into those of co- 
existence ; so that the use of the first is to furnish the true 
theory of progress to political practice, while the second 
performs the same service in regard to order ; and this 
suitability to the needs of modem society is a strong 
confirmation of the philosophical character of such a 

If the existence of sociological laws has 
natuTfiS^laws. ^^^ established in the more difficult and 

uncertain case of the statical condition, we 
may assume that they will not be questioned in the dyna- 
mical province. In all times and places, the ordinary 
course of even our brief individual life has disclosed certain 
remarkable modifications which have occurred, in various 
ways, in the social state ; and all the most ancient repre- 
sentations of human life bear unconscious and most interest- 
ing testimony to this, apart from all systematic estimate of 
the fact. Now it is the slow, continuous accumulation of 


these successive changes which gradually constitutes the 
social movement, whose steps are ordinarily marked by 
generations, as the most appreciable elementary variations 
are wrought by the constant renewal of adults. At a time 
when the average rapidity of this progression seems to all 
eyes to be remarkably accelerated, the reality of the move- 
ment cannot be disputed, even by those who most abhor it. 
The only question is about the constant subjection of these 
great dynamical phenomena to invariable natural laws, a 
proposition about which there is no question to any one 
who takes his stand on positive philosophy. It is easy how- 
ever to establish, from any point of view, that the successive 
modifications of society have always taken place in a deter- 
minate order, the rational explanation of which is already 
possible in so many cases that we may confidently hope to 
recognize it ultimately in all the rest. So remarkable is 
the steadiness of this order, moreover, that it exhibits an 
exact parallelism of development among distinct and inde- 
pendent populations, as we shall see when we come to the 
historical portion of this volume. Since, then, the existence 
of the social movement is unquestionable, on the one hand, 
and, on the other, the succession of social states is never 
arbitrary, we cannot but regard this continuous pheno- 
menon as subject to natural laws as positive as those which \ 
govern all other phenomena, though more complex. There 
is in fact no intellectual alternative ; and thus it is evident 
that it is on the ground of social science that the great 
conflict must soon terminate which has gone on for three 
centuries between the positive and the theologico-metaphy- 
sical spirit. Banished for ever from all other classes of 
speculation, in principle at least, the old philosophies now 
prevail in social science alone ; and it is from this domain 
that they have to be excluded, by the conception of the 
social movement being subject to invariable natural laws, 
instead of to any will whatever. 

Though the fundamental laws of social interconnection 
are especially verified in this condition of movement, and 
though there is a necessary unity in this phenomenon, it 
may be usefully applied, for preparatory purposes, to the 
separate elementary aspects of human existence, physical, 
moral, intellectual and, finally, political, — their mutual 


relation being kept in view. ITow, in whichever of these 
ways we regard, as a whole, the movement of humanity, 
from the earliest periods till now, we shall find that the 
various steps are connected in a determinate order ; as we 
shall hereafter see, when we investigate the laws of this 
succession. I need refer here only to the intellectual evolu- 
tion, which is the most distinct and unquestionable of all, 
as it has been the least impeded and most advanced of 
any, and has therefore been usually taken for guidance. 
The chief part of this evolution, and that which has most 
influenced the general progression, is no doubt the develop- 
ment of the scientific spirit, from the primitive labours of 
such philosophers as Thales and Pythagoras to those of 
men like Lagrange and Bichat. Now, no enlightened man 
can doubt that, in this long succession of efforts and dis- 
coveries, the human mind has pursued a determinate 
course, the exact preparatory knowledge of which might 
have allowed a cultivated reason to foresee the progress 
proper to each period. Though the historical cousidera- 
tions cited in my former volume were only incidental, any 
one may recognize in them numerous and indisputable 
examples of this necessary succession, more complex per- 
haps, but not more arbitrary than any natural law, whether 
in regard to the development of each separate scieuce, or 
to the mutual influence of the different branches of natural 
philosophy. In accordance with the principles laid down 
at the beginning of this work, we have already seen in 
various signal instances, that the chief progress of each 
period, and even of each generation, was a necessary result 
of the immediately preceding state; so that the men of 
genius, to whom such progression has been too exclusively 
attributed, are essentially only the proper organs of a pre- 
determined movement, which would, in their absence, have 
found other issues. We find a verification of this in history, 
which shows that various eminent men were ready to make 
the same great discovery at the same time, while the dis- 
covery required only one organ. All the parts of the 
human evolution admit of analogous observations, as we 
shall presently see, though they are more complex and less 
obvious than that which I have just cited. The natural 
progression of the arts of life is abundantly evident ; and 


in our direct study of social dynamics we shall find an 
explanation of the apparent exception of the fine arts, 
which will be found to oppose no contradiction to the 
general course of human progression. As to that part of the 
movement which appears at present to be least reducible 
to natural laws, the political movement (still supposed to 
be governed by wills of adequate power), it is clear as in 
any other case that political systems have exhibited an 
historical succession, according to a traceable filiation, in a 
determinate order, which I am prepared to show to be 
even more inevitable than that of the different states of 
human intelligence. 

The interconnection which we have examined and estab- 
lished in a statical view may aid us in developing the con- 
ception of the existence of positive laws in social dynamics. 
Unless the movement was determined by those laws, it 
would occasion the entire destruction of the social system. 
Now, that interconnection simphfies and strengthens the 
preparatory indications of dynamic order ; for, when it has 
once been shown in any relation, we are authorized to extend 
it to all others ; and this unites all the partial proofs that 
we can successively obtain of the reality of this scientific 
conception. In the choice and the application of these 
verifications, we must remember that the laws of social 
dynamics are most recognizable when they relate to the 
largest societies, in which secondary disturbances have the 
smallest effect. Again, these fundamental laws become 
the more irresistible, and therefore the more appreciable, 
in proportion to the advancement of the civilization upon 
which they operate, because the social movement becomes 
more distinct and certain with every conquest over acci- 
dental influences. As for the philosophical co-ordination 
of these preparatory evidences, the combination of which is 
important to science, it is clear that the social evolution 
must be more inevitably subject to natural laws, the more 
compound are the phenomena, and the less perceptible 
therefore the irregularities which arise from individual 
influences. This shows how inconsistent it is, for instance, 
to suppose the scientific movement to be subject to positive 
laws, while the political movement is regarded as arbitrary ; 
for the latter, being more composite, must overrule indi- 


vidual disturbances, and be therefore more evidjently pre- 
determined than the former, in which individual genius 
must have more power. Any paradoxical appearance which 
this statement may exhibit will disappear in the course of 
further examination. 

If I confined myself strictly to a scientific view, I might 
satisfy myself with proving the fact of social progression, 
without taking any notice of the question of human per- 
fectibility. But so much time and effort are wasted in 
groundless speculation on that interesting question, argued 
as it is on the supposition that political events are arbi- 
trarily determined, that it may be as well to notice it in 
passing ; and the more, because it may serve as a natural 
transition to the estimate of the limits of political action. 
Notion of Hu- We have nothing to do here with the meta- 
man perf ec- physical controversy about the absolute happi- 
tibility. j^ess of Man at different stages of civilization. 

As the happiness of every man depends on the harmony 
between the development of his various faculties and the 
entire system of the circumstances which govern his life ; 
and as, on the other hand, this equilibrium always estab- 
lishes itself spontaneously to a certain extent, it is impos- 
sible to compare in a positive way, either by sentiment or 
reasoning, the individual welfare which belongs to social 
situations that can never be brought into direct comparison : 
and therefore the question of the happiness of different 
animal organisms, or of their two sexes, is merely imprac- 
ticable and unintelligible. The only question therefore is 
of the effect of the social evolution, which is so undeniable 
that there is no reasoning with any one who does not admit 
it as the basis of the inquiry. The only ground of discus- 
sion is whether development and improvement, — the theo- 
retical and the practical aspect, — are one; whether the 
development is necessarily accompanied by a corresponding 
amelioration, or progress, properly so called. To me it ap- 
pears that the amelioration is as unquestionable as the 
development from which it proceeds, provided we regard it 
as subject, like the development itself, to limits, general 
and special, which science will be found to prescribe. The 
chimerical notion of unlimited perfectibility is thus at once 
excluded. Taking the human race as a whole, and not any 



one people, it appears that human development brings after 
it, in two ways, an ever-growing ameHoration, first, in the 
radical condition of Man, which no one disputes ; and next, 
in his corresponding faculties, which is a view much less 
attended to. There is no need to dwell upon the improve- 
ment in the conditions of human existence, both by the in- 
creasing action of Man on his environment through the 
advancement of the sciences and arts, and by the constant 
amelioration of his customs and manners ; and again, by 
the gradual improvement in social organization. We shall 
presently see that in the Middle Ages, which are charged 
with political retrogression, the progress was more poHtical 
than any other. One fact is enough to silence sophistical 
declamation on this subject; the continuous increase of 
population all over the globe, as a consequence of civiliza- 
tion, while the wants of individuals are, as a whole, better 
satisfied at the same time. The tendency to improvement 
must be highly spontaneous and irresistible to have per- 
severed notwithstanding the enormous faults, — political 
faults especially, — ^which have at all times absorbed or 
neutralized the greater part of our social forces. Even 
throughout the revolutionary period, in spite of the marked 
discordance between the political system and the general 
state of civilization, the improvement has proceeded, not 
only in physical and intellectual, but also in moral respects, 
though the transient disorganization could not but disturb 
the natural evolution. As for the other aspect of the ques- 
tion, the gradual and slow improvement of human nature, 
within narrow limits, it seems to me impossible to reject 
altogether the principle proposed (with great exaggeration, 
however,) by Lamarck, of the necessary influence of a homo- 
geneous and continuous exercise in producing, in every 
animal organism, and especially in Man, an organic im- 
provement, susceptible of being established in the race, 
after a sufficient persistence. If we take the best marked 
case, — that of intellectual development, it seems to be un- 
questionable that there is a superior aptitude for mental 
combinations, independent of all culture, among highly 
civilized people ; or, what comes to the same thing, an in- 
ferior aptitude among nations that are less advanced, — the 
average intellect of the members of those societies being 

234 POsrrivE philosophy. 

taken for observation. The intellectual faculties are, it is 
true, more modified than the others bj the social evolution: 
but then they have the smallest relative effect in the indi- 
vidual human constitution : so that we are authorized to 
infer from their amelioration a proportionate improvement 
in aptitudes that are more marked and equally exercised. 
In regard to morals, particularly, 1 think it indisputable 
that the gradual development of humanity favours a grow- 
ing preponderance of the noblest tendencies of our nature, 
— as I hope to prove further on. The lower instincts con- 
tinue to manifest themselves in modified action, but their 
less sustained and more repressed exercise must tend to 
debilitate them by degrees; and their increasing regula- 
tion certainly brings them into involuntary concurrence in 
the maintenance of a good social economy ; and especially 
in the case of the least marked organisms, which constitute 
a vast majority. These two aspects of social evolution, 
then, — ^the development which brings after it the improve- 
ment, — we may consider to be admitted as facts. 

Adhering to our relative, in opposition to the absolute, 
view, we must conclude the social state, regarded as a 
whole, to have been as perfect, in each period, as the co- 
existing condition of humanity and of its environment 
would allow. Without this view, history would be incom- 
prehensible ; and the relative view is as indispensable in 
regard to progress, as, in considering social statics, we saw 
it to be in regard to order. If, in a statical view, the 
various social elements cannot but maintain a spontaneous 
harmony, which is the first principle of order ; neither can 
any of them help being as awivanced, at any period, as the 
whole system of influences permits. In either case, the 
harmony and the movement are the result of invariable 
natural laws which produce all phenomena whatever, and 
are more obscure in social science merely on account of the 
greater complexity of the phenomena concerned. 

. . - ,. And, now occurs, as the last aspect of social 
tic«J action? ^ dynamics, the question of the general limits 

of political action. No enlightened man can 
be blind to the necessary existence of such limits, which 
can be ignored only on the old theological supposition of 
the legislator being merely the organ of a direct and con- 


timious Providence, which admits of no limits. We need 
not stop to confute that hypothesis, which has no existence 
but in virtue of ancient habit of thought. In any case, 
human action is very limited, in spite of all aids from con- 
currence and ingenious methods ; and it is difficult to per- 
ceive why social action should be exempt from this restric- 
tion, which is an inevitable consequence of the existence of 
natural laws. Through all the self-assertions of human 
pride, every statesman of experience knows well the reality 
of the bounds prescribed to political action by the aggre- 
gate of social influences, to which he must attribute the 
failure of the greater number of the projects which he had 
secretly cherished ; and perhaps the conviction is most 
thorough, while most carefully hidden, in the mind of the 
most powerful of statesmen, because his inability to 
struggle against natural laws must be decisive in propor- 
tion to his implication with them. Seeing that social 
science would be impossible in the absence of this principle, 
we need not dwell further upon it, but may proceed to ascer- 
tain the fitness of the new political philosophy to determine, 
with all the precision that the subject admits, what is the 
nature of these limits, general or special, permanent or 

Two questions are concerned here: first, in what way 
the course of human development may be affected by the 
aggregate of causes of variation which may be applied to 
it; and next, what share the voluntary and calculated 
action of our political combinations may have among these 
modifying influences. The first question is by far the 
most important, both because it is a general principle, 
which the second is not, and because it is fully accessible, 
which, again, the second is not. 

We must observe, in the first place, that Social pheno- 
social phenomena may, from their complexity, mena modi- 
be more easily modified than any others, fiable. 
according to the law which was established to that effect 
in my first volume. Thus, the limits of variation are wider 
in regard to sociological than any other laws. If, then, 
human intervention holds the same proportionate rank 
among modifying influences as it is natural at first to 
suppose, its influence must be more considerable in the 


first case than in any other, all appearances to the contrary 
notwithstanding. This is the first scientific foundation of 
all rational hopes of a systematic reformation of humanity ; 
and on this ground illusions of this sort certainly appear 
more excusable than on any other subject. But though 
modifications, from all causes, are greater in the case of 
political than of simpler phenomena, still they can never 
be more than modifications : that is, they will always be in 
subjection to those fundamental laws, whether statical or 
dynamical, which regulate the harmony of the social 
elements, and the filiation of their successive variations. 
There is no disturbing infliuence, exterior or human, which 
can make incompatible elements co-exist in the political 
system, nor change in any way the natural laws of the 
development of humanity. The inevitable gradual pre- 
ponderance of continuous influences, however imperceptible 
their power may be at first, is now admitted with regard 
to all natural phenomena ; and it must be applied to social 
phenomena, whenever the same method of philosophizing is 
extended to them. What then are the modifications of 
which the social organism and social life are susceptible, if 
nothing can alter the laws either of harmony or of succes- 
sion? The answer is that modifications act upon the 
intensity and secondary operation of phenomena, but with- 
out affecting their nature or their filiation. To suppose 
that they could, would be to exalt the disturbing above the 
fundamental cause, and would destroy the whole economy 
of laws. In the political system this principle of positive 
philosophy shows that, in a statical view, any possible 
variations can affect only the intensity of the different 
tendencies belonging to each social situation, without in 
any way hindering or producing, or, in a word, changing 
the nature of, those tendencies ; and, in the same way, in 
a dynamical view, the progress of the race must be con- 
sidered susceptible of modification only with regard to its 
speed, and without any reversal in the order of develop- 
ment, or any interval of any importance being overleaped. 
These variations are analogous to those of the animal 
organism, with the one difference that in sociology they 
are more complex ; and, as we saw that the limits of varia- 
tion remain to be established in biology, it is not to be 


expected tliat sociology should be more advanced. But all 
we want here is to obtain a notion of the general spirit of 
the law, in regard both to social statics and dynamics ; and 
looking at it from both points of view, it seems to me 
impossible to question its truth. In the intellectual order 
of phenomena, for instance, there is no accidental influence, 
nor any individual superiority, which can transfer to one 
period the discoveries reserved for a subsequent age, in the 
natural course of the human mind ; nor can there be the 
reverse case of postponement. The history of the sciences 
settles the question of the close dependence of even the 
most eminent individual genius on the contemporary state 
of the human mind ; and this is above all remarkable in 
regard to the improvement of methods of investigation, 
either in the way of reasoning or experiment. The same 
thing happens in regard to the arts ; and especially in 
whatever depends on mechanical means in substitution for 
human action. And there is not, in reality, any more 
room for doubt in the case of moral development, the 
character of which is certainly determined, in each period, 
by the corresponding state of the social evolution, whatever 
may be the modifications caused by education or individual 
organization. Each of the leading modes of social existeijce 
determines for itself a certain system of morals and 
manners, the common aspect of which is easily recognized 
in all individuals, in the midst of their characteristic 
differences ; for instance, there is a state of human life in 
which the best individual natures contract a habit of 
ferocity, from which very inferior natures easily emanc^ipate 
themselves, in a better state of society. The case is the 
same, in a political view, as our historical analysis will here- 
after show. And in fact, if we were to review all the facts 
and reflections which establish the existence of the limits of 
variation, whose principle I have just laid down, we should 
find ourselves reproducing in succession all the proofs of 
the subjection of social phenomena to invariable laws; 
because the principle is neither more nor less than a strict 
application of the philosophical conception. 

We cannot enlarge upon the second head : Order of mo- 
that is, the classification of modifying in- difying inliu 
fluences according to their respective impor- ences. 


tance. If such a classification is not yet established in 
biology, it would be premature indeed to attempt it in 
social science. Thus, if the three chief causes of social 
variation appear to me to result from, first, race ; secondly, 
climate; thirdly, political action in its whole scientific 
extent, it would answer none of our present purposes to 
inquire here whether this or some other is the real order 
of their importance. The political influences are the only 
ones really open to our intervention; and to that head 
general attention must be directed, though with great care 
to avoid the conclusion that that class of influences must 
be the most important because it is the most immediately 
interesting to us. It is owing to such an illusion as this 
'that observers who believe themselves emancipated from 
old prejudices cannot obtain sociological knowledge, because 
they enormously exaggerate the power of political action. 
Because political operations, temporal or spiritual, can have 
no social efficacy but in as far as they are in accordance 
with the corresponding tendencies of the human mind, 
they are supposed to have produced what is in reality 
occasioned by a spontaneous evolution, which is less con- 
spicuous, and easily overlooked. Such a mistake proceeds 
in neglect of numerous and marked cases in history, in 
which the most prodigious political authority has left no 
lasting traces of its well-sustained development, because it 
moved in a contrary direction to modern civilization ; as in 
the instances of Julian, of Philip II., of Napoleon Bona- 
parte, etc. The inverse cases, unhappily too few, are still 
more decisive ; those cases in which political action, sus- 
tained by an equally powerful authority, has nevertheless 
failed in the pursuit of ameliorations that were premature, 
though in accordance with the social movement of the 
time. Intellectual history, as well as political, furnishes 
examples of this kind in abundance. It has been sensibly 
remarked by Fergusson, that even the action of one nation 
upon another, whether by conquest or otherwise, though 
the most intense of all social forces, can effect merely such 
modifications as are in accordance with its existing tenden- 
cies; so that, in fact, the action merely accelerates or 
extends a development which would have taken place 
without it. In politics, as in science, opportuneness is 


always the main condition of all great and durable in- 
fluence, whatever may be the personal value of the superior 
man to whom the multitude attribute social action of which 
he is merely the fortunate organ. The power of the indi- 
vidual over the race is subject to these general limits, even 
when the effects, for good or for evil, are as easy as possible 
to produce. In revolutionary times, for instance, those 
who are proud of having aroused anarchical passions in 
their contemporaries do not see that their miserable triumph 
is due to a spontaneous disposition, determined by the 
aggregate of the corresponding social state, which has pro- 
duced a provisional and partial relaxation of the general 
harmony. As for the rest, it being ascertained that there 
are limits of variation among social phenomena, and 
modifications dependent on systematic political action ; 
and as the scientific principle which is to describe such 
modifications is now known; the influence and scope of 
that principle must be determined in each case by the 
direct development of social science, api>lied to the appre- 
ciation of the corresponding state of circumstances. It is 
by such estimates, empirically attempted, that men of 
genius have been guided in all great and profound action 
upon humanity in any way whatever ; and it is only thus 
that they have been able to rectify, in a rough way, the 
illusory suggestions of the irrational doctrines in which 
they were educated. Everywhere, as I have so often said, 
foresight is the true source of action. 

The inaccurate intellectual habits which as yet prevail 
in political philosophy may induce an apj)rehension that, 
according to such considerations as those just presented, 
the new science of Social Physics may reduce us to mere 
observation of human events, excluding all continuous 
intervention. It is, however, certain that, while dissijmting 
all ambitious illusions about the indefinite action of Man 
on civilization, the principle of rational limits to political 
action establishes, in the most exact and unquestionable 
manner, the true point of contact between social theory 
and practice. It is by this principle only that political 
art can assume a systematic character, by its release from 
arbitrary principles mingled with empirical notions. It is 
thus only that political art can pass upwards as medical 


art has done; the two cases being stronglj analogous. 
As political intervention can have no efficacy unless it 
rests on corresponding tendencies of the political organism 
or life, so as to aid its spontaneous development, it is 
absolutely necessary to understand the natural laws of 
harmony and succession which determine, in every period, 
and under every social aspect, what the human evolution 
is prepared to produce, pointing out, at the same time, the 
chief obstacles which may be got rid of. It would be 
exaggerating the scope of such an art to suppose it capable 
of obviating, in all cases, the violent disturbances which 
are occasioned by impediments to the natural evolution. 
In the highly complex social organism, maladies and crises 
are necessarily even more inevitable than in the individual 
organism. But, though science is powerless for the mo- 
ment amidst wild disorder and extravagance, it may 
palliate and abridge the crises, by understanding their 
character and foreseeing their issue, and by more or less 
I. intervention, where any is possible. Here, as in other 

' cases, and more than in other cases, the office of science is, 

not to govern, but to modify phenomena ; and to do this, 
it is necessary to understand their laws. 

Thus, then, we see what is the function of social science. 
Without extolling or condemning political facts, science 
[ regards them as subjects of observation : it contemplates 

each phenomenon in its harmony with co-existing pheno- 
mena, and in its connection with the foregoing and the 
following state of human development : it endeavours to 
discover, from both points of view, the general relations 
which connect all social phenomena : and each of them is 
explained, in the scientific sense of the word, when it has 
been connected with the whole of the existing situation, 
and the whole of the preceding movement. Favouring the 
social sentiment in the highest degree, this science fulfils 
the famous suggestion of Pascal, by representing the whole 
human race, past, present, and future, as constituting a 
vast and eternal social unit, whose different organs, indi- 
vidual and national, concur, in their various modes and 
degrees, in the evolution of humanity. Leading us on, 
like every other science, with as much exactness as the 
extreme complexity of its phenomena allows, to a systematic 

I I 



prevision of the events which must result from either a 
given situation or a given aggregate of antecedents, political 
science enlightens political art, not only in regard to the 
tendencies which should be aided, but as to the chief means 
that should be employed, so as to avoid all useless or 
ephemeral and therefore dangerous action; in short, all 
waste of any kind of social force. 

This examination of the general spirit of ,, 
political phnosophy has been much more ^^^"tl^tion. 
difficult than the same process in regard to 
any established science. The next step, now that this is 
accomplished, is to examine, according to my usual method, 
the means of investigation proper to Social science. In 
virtue of a law before recognized, we may expect to find 
in Sociology a more varied and developed system of re- 
sources than in any other, in proportion to the complexity 
of the phenomena, while yet, this extension of means does 
not compensate for the increased imperfection arising from 
the intricacv. The extension of the means is also more 
difficult to verify than in any prior case, from the novelty 
of the subject ; and I can scarcely hope that such a sketch 
as I must present here will command such confidence as 
will arise when a complete survey of the science shall have 
confirmed what I now offer. 

As Social Physics assumes a place in the hierarchy of 
sciences after all the rest, and therefore dependent on them, 
its means of investigation must be of two kinds : those 
which are peculiar to itself, and which may be called 
direct, and those which arise from the connection of socio- 
logy with the other sciences ; and these last, though indi- 
rect, are as indispensable as the first. I Tki^^/»+T«^or,c 
shall review, first, the direct resources of 
the science. 

Here, as in all the other cases, there are three methods 
of proceeding: — by Observation, Experiment and Com- 

Very imperfect and even vicious notions observation 
prevail at present as to what Observation 
can be and can effect in social science. The chaotic state 
of doctrine of the last century has extended to Method ; 
and amidst our intellectual disorganization, difficulties 

II. K 



have been magnified ; precautionary methods, experimental 
and rational, have been broken up; and even the possi- 
bility of obtaining social knowledge by observation has 
been dogmatically denied ; but if the sophisms put forth 
on this subject were true, they would destroy the certainty, 
not only of social science, but of all the simpler and more 
perfect ones that have gone before. The ground of doubt 
assigned is the uncertainty of human testimony ; but all 
the sciences, up to the most simple, require proofs of testi- 
mony: that is, in the elaboration of the most positive 
theories, we have to admit observations which could not 
be directly made, nor even repeated, by those who use 
them, and the reality of which rests only on the faithful 
testimony of the original investigators ; there being nothing 
in this to prevent the use of such proofs, in concurrence 
with immediate observations. In astronomy, such a method 
is obviously necessary ; it is equally, though less obviously 
necessary even in mathematics ; and, of course, much more 
evidently in the case of the more complex sciences. How 
could any science emerge from the nascent state, — ^how 
could there be any organization of intellectual labour, even 
if research were restricted to the utmost, if every one re- 
jected all observations but his own ? The stoutest advo- 
cates of historical scepticism do not go so far as to advocate 
this. It is only in the case of social phenomena that the 
paradox is proposed ; and it is made use of there because 
it is one of the weapons of the philosophical arsenal which 
the revolutionary metaphysical doctrine constructed for 
the intellectual overthrow of the ancient political system. 
The next great hindrance to the use of obsei'vation is the 
empiricism which is introduced into it by those who, in 
the name of impartiality, would interdict the use of any 
theory whatever. No , logical dogma could be more 
thoroughly irreconcilable with the spirit of the positive 
philosophy, or with its special character in regard to the 
study of social phenomena, than this. No real observation 
of any kind of phenomena is possible, except in as far as 
it is first directed, and finally interpreted, by some theory : 
and it was this logical need which, in the infancy of human 
reason, occasioned the rise of theological philosophy, as we 
shall see in the course of our historical survey. The posi- 


tive philosophy does not dissolve this obligation, but, on 
the contrary, extends and fulfils it more and more, the 
further the relations of phenomena are multiplied and 
perfected by it. Hence it is clear that, scientifically 
speaking, all isolated, empirical ob servation is j dle, and 
even radicaHipuncertalny tKat^ience can use only those 
observations which are connected, at least hypothetically, 
with some law ; that it is such a connection which makes 
the chief difference between scientific aud popular observa- 
tion, embracing the same facts, but contemplating them 
from different points of view : and that observations em- 
pirically conducted can at most supply provisional mate- 
rials, which must usually undergo an ulterior revision. 
The rational method of observation becomes more necessarv 
in proportion to the complexity of the phenomena, amidst 
which the observer would not know what he ought to look 
at in the facts before his eyes, but for the guidance of a 
preparatory theory ; and thus it is that by the connection 
of foregoing facts we learn to see the facts that follow. 
This is un(£sputed with regard to astronomical, physical, 
and chemical research, and in every branch of biological 
study, in which good observation of its highly complex 
phenomena is still very rare, precisely because its positive 
theories are veiy imperfect. Carrying on the analogy, it 
is evident that in the corresponding divisions, statical and 
dynamical, of social science, there is more need than any- 
where else of theories which shall scientifically connect the 
facts that are happening with those that have happened : 
and the more we reflect, the more distinctly we shall see 
that in proportion as known facts are mutually connected 
we shall be better able, not only to estimate, but to per- 
ceive, those which are yet unexplored. I am not blind to 
the vast difficulty which this requisition imposes on the 
institution of positive sociology, — obliging us to create at 
once, so to speak, observations and laws, on account of 
their indispensable connection, placing us in a sort of 
vicious circle, from which we can issue only by employing 
in the first instance materials which are badly elaborated, 
and doctrines which are ill-conceived. How I may succeed 
in a task so difficult and delicate, we shall see at its close ; 
but, however that may be, it is clear that it is the absence 


of any positive theory which at present renders social 
observations so vague and incoherent. There can never be 
any lack of facts ; for in this case even more than in others, 
it is the commonest sort of facts that are most important, 
whatever the collectors of secret anecdotes may think ; 
but, though we are steeped to the lips in them, we can 
make no use of them, nor even be aware of them, for w.ant 
of speculative guidance in examining them. The statical 
observation of a crowd of phenomena cannot take place 
without some notion, however elementary, of the laws of 
social interconnection : and dynamical facts could have no 
fixed direction if they were not attached, at least by a pro- 
visional hypothesis, to the laws of social development. The 
positive philosophy is very far from discouraging historical 
or any other erudition ; but the precious night- watchings, 
now so lost in the laborious acquisition of a conscientious 
but barren learning, may be made available by it for the 
constitution of true social science, and the increased honour 
of the earnest minds that are devoted to it. The new 
philosophy will supply fresh and nobler subjects, unhoped- 
for insight, a loftier aim, and therefore a higher scientific 
dignity. It will discard none but aimless labours, without 
principle and without character ; as in Physics, there is no 
room for compilations of empirical observations ; and at 
the same time, philosophy will render justice to the zeal of 
students of a past generation, who, destitute of the favour- 
able guidance which we, of this day, enjoy, followed up 
their laborious historical researches with an instinctive 
perseverance, and in spite of the superficial disdain of the 
philosophers of the time. No doubt, the same danger 
attends research here as elsewhere : the danger that, from 
the continuous use of scientific theories, the observer may 
sometimes pervert facts, by erroneously supposing them to 
verify some ill-grounded speculative prejudices of his own. 
But we have the same guard here as elsewhere, — in the 
further extension of the science : and the case would not 
be improved by a recurrence to empirical methods, which 
would be merely leaving theories that may be misapplied 
but can always be rectified, for imaginary notions which 
cannot be substantiated at all. Our feeble reason may 
often fail in the application of positive theories; but at 


least they transfer us from the domain of imagination to 
that of reality, and expose us inj&nitely less than any other 
kind of doctrine to the danger of seeing in facts that which 
is not. 

It is now clear that social science requires, more than any 
other, the subordination of Observation to the statical and 
dynamical laws of phenomena. No social fact can have any 
scientific meaning till it is connected with some other social 
fact; without which connection it remains a mere anec- 
dote, involving no rational utility. This condition so far 
increases the immediate difficulty that good observers will 
be rare at first, though more abundant than ever as the 
science expands : and here we meet with another confirma- 
tion of what I said at the outset of this volume, — that the 
formation of social theories should be confided only to the 
best organized minds, prepared by the most rational train- 
ing. Explored by such minds, according to rational views 
of co-existence and succession, social phenomena no doubt 
admit of much more varied and extensive means of investi- 
gation than phenomena of less complexity. In this view, 
it is not only the immediate inspection or direct description 
of events that affords useful means of positive exploration ; 
but the consideration of apparently insignificant customs, 
the appreciation of various kinds of monuments, the 
analysis and comparison of languages, and a multitude of 
other resources. In short, a mind suitably trained be- 
comes able by exercise to convert almost all impressions 
from the events of life into sociological indications, when 
once the connection of all indications with the leading 
ideas of the science is understood. This is a facility 
afforded by the mutual relation of the various aspects 
of society, which may partly compensate for the diffi- 
culty caused by that mutual connection : if it renders 
observation more difficult, it affords more means for its 

It might be supposed beforehand that the ExDcriment 
second method of investigation. Experiment, 
must be wholly inapplicable in Social Science ; but we 
shall find that the science is not entirely deprived of this 
resource, though it must be one of inferior value. We 
must remember (what was before explained) that there are 


two kinds of experimentation, — the direct and the indirect : 
and that it is not necessary to the philosophical character 
of this method that the circumstances of the phenomenon 
in question should be, as is vulgarly supposed in the learned 
world, artificially instituted. Whether the case be natural 
or factitious, experimentation takes place whenever the 
regular course of the phenomenon is interfered with in any 
determinate manner. The spontaneous nature of the 
alteration has no effect on the scientific value of the case, 
if the elements are known. It is in this sense that experi- 
mentation is possible in Sociology. If direct experimenta- 
tion had become too difl&cult amidst the complexities of 
biology, it may well be considered impossible in social 
science. Any artificial disturbance of any social element 
must affect all the rest, according to the laws both of 
co-existence and succession; and the experiment would 
therefore, if it could be instituted at all, be deprived of all 
scientific value, through the impossibility of isolating either 
the conditions or the results of the phenomenon. But we 
saw, in our survey of biology, that pathological cases are 
the true scientific equivalent of pure experimentation, and 
why. The same reasons apply, with even more force, 
to sociological researches. In them, pathological analysis 
consists in the examination of cases, unhappily too common, 
in which the natural laws, either of harmony or of succes- 
sion, are disturbed by any causes, special or general, acci- 
dental or transient ; as in revolutionary times especially, 
and above all, in our own. These disturbances are, in the 
social body, exactly analogous to diseases in the individual 
organism : and I have no doubt whatever that the analogy 
will be more evident (allowance being made for the unequal 
complexity of the organisms) the deeper the investigation 
goes. In both cases it is, as I said once before, a noble use 
to make of our reason, to disclose the real laws of our 
nature, individual or social, by the analysis of its sufferings. 
But if the method is imperfectly instituted in regard to 
biological questions, much more faulty must it be in regard 
to the phenomena of social science, for want even of the 
rational conceptions to which they are to be referred. We 
see the most disastrous political experiments for ever 
renewed, with only some insignificant and irrational modi- 


fications, though their first operation should have fuUr 
satisfied us of the uselessness and danger of the expedients 
proposed. Without forgetting how much is ascribable to 
the influence of human passions, we must remember that 
the deficiency of an authoritative rational analysis is one of 
the main causes of the barrenness imputed to social experi- 
ments, the course of which would become much more 
instructive if it were better observed. The great natural 
laws exist and act in all conditions of the organism ; for, as 
we saw in the case of biology, it is an error to suppose that 
they are violated or suspended in the case of disease : and 
we are therefore justified in drawing our conclusions, with 
due caution, from the scientific analysis of disturbance 
to the positive theory of normal existence. This is the 
nature and character of the indirect experimentation which 
discloses the real economy of the social body in a more 
marked manner than simple observation could do. It is 
applicable to all orders of sociological research, whether 
relating to existence or to movement, and regarded under 
any aspect whatever, physical, intellectual, moral, or 
political ; and to all degrees of the social evolution, from 
which, unhappily, disturbances have never been absent. 
As for its present extension, no one can venture to offer any 
statement of it, because it has never been duly applied 
in any investigation in political philosophy ; and it can 
become customary only by the institution of the new science 
which I am endeavouring to establish. But I could not 
omit this notice of it, as one of the means of investigation 
proper to social science. 

As for the third of those methods, Com- r*^ .^ „ 

^, T ^ , . .Til uompanson. 

^anson, the reader must bear in mmd the 

explanations offered, in our survey of biological philosophy, 
of the reasons why the comparative method must prevail in 
all studies of which the living organism is the subject ; and 
the more remarkably, in proportion to the rank of the 
organism. The same considerations apply in the present 
case, in a more conspicuous degree ; and I may leave it to 
the reader to make the application, merely pointing out the 
chief differences which distinguish the use of the compara- 
tive method in sociological inquiries. 

It is a very irrational disdain which makes us object to 


Comparison aU comparison between human society and 
"\ with inferior the social state of the lower animals. This 

animals. unphilosophical pride arose out of the pro- 

tracted influence of the theologico-metaphysical philosophy ; 
and it will be corrected by the positive philosophy, when we 
better understand and can estimate the social state of the 
higher orders of mammifers, for instance. We have seen 
how important is the study of individual life, in regard to 
intellectual and moral phenomena, — of which social pheno- 
mena are the natural result and complement. There was 
once the same blindness to the importance of the procedure 
in this case as now in the other ; and, as it has given way 
in the one case, so it will in the other. The chief defect in 
the kind of sociological comparison that we want is that it 
is limited to statical consideration ; whereas the dynamical 
are, at the present time, the preponderant and direct sub- 
ject of science. The restriction results from the social state 
of animals being, though not so stationary as we are apt to 
suppose, yet susceptible only of extremely small variations, 
in no way comparable to the continued progression of 
humanity in its feeblest days. But there is no doubt of 
the scientific utility of such a comparison, in the statical 
province, where it characterizes the elementary laws of 
social interconnection, by exhibiting their action in the 
most imperfect state of society, so as even to suggest useful 
inductions in regard to human society. There cannot be a 
stronger evidence of the natural character of the chief 
social relations, which some people fancy that they can 
transform at pleasure. Such sophists will cease to regard 
the great ties of the human family as factitious and 
arbitrary when they find them existing, with the same 
essential characteristics, among the animals, and more con- 
spicuously, the nearer the organisms approach to the human 
type. In brief, in all that part of sociology which is almost 
one with intellectual and moral biology, or with the natural 
history of Man ; in all that relates to the first germs of the 
social relations, and the first institutions which were 
founded by the unity of the family or the tribe, there is not 
only great scientific advantage, but real philosophical 
necessity for employing the rational comparison of human 
with other animal societies. Perhaps it might even be 


desirable not to confine the comparison to societies which 
present a character of voluntary co-operation, in analogy to 
the human. They must always rank first in importance : 
but the scientific spirit, extending the process to its final 
logical term, might find some advantage in examining 
those strange associations, proper to the inferior animals, in 
which an involuntary co-operation results from an indis- 
soluble organic union, either by simple adhesion or real 
continuity. If the science gained nothing by this extension, 
the method would. And there is nothing that can compare 
with such an habitual scientific comparison for the great 
service of casting out the absolute spirit which is the chief 
vice of political philosophy. It appears to me, moreover, 
that, in a practical view, the insolent pride which induces 
some ranks of society to suppose themselves as, in a manner, 
of another species than the rest of mankind, is in close 
affinity with the irrational disdain that repudiates all com- 
parison between human and other animal nature. How- 
ever all this may be, these considerations apply only to a 
methodical and special treatment of social philosophy. 
Here, where I can offer only the first conception of the 
science, in which dynamical considerations must prevail, it 
is evident that I can make little use of the kind of com- 
parison ; and this makes it all the more necessary to point 
it out, lest its omission should occasion such scientific 
inconveniences as I have just indicated. The commonest 
logical procedures are generally so characterized by their 
very application, that nothing more of a preliminary nature 
is needed than the simplest examination of their funda- 
mental properties. 

To indicate the order of importance of the Comparison of 
forms of society which are to be studied by co-existing 
the Comparative Method, I begin with the states of so- 
chief method, which consists in a comparison ^i®*y- 
of the different co-existing states of human society on the 
various parts of the earth's surface, — those states being 
completely independent of each other. By this method, 
the different stages of evolution may all be observed at 
once. Though the progression is single and uniform, in 
regard to the whole race, some very considerable and very 
various populations have, from causes which are little 

250 posrriVE philosophy. 

understood, attained extremely unequal degrees of develop- 
ment, so that the former states of the most civilized nations 
are now to be seen, amidst some partial differences, among 
conteraporarj populations inhabiting different parts of the 
globe. In its relation to Observation, this kind of com- 
parison offers the advantage of being applicable both to 
statical and dynamical inquiries, verifying the laws of both, 
and even furnishing occasionally valuable direct inductions 
in regard to both. In the second place, it exhibits all 
possible degrees of social evolution to our immediate obser- 
vation. From the wretched inhabitants of Tierra del 
Fuego to the most advanced nations of western Europe, 
there is no social grade which is not extant in some points 
of the globe, and usually in localities which are clearly 
apart. In the historical part of this volume, we shall find 
that some interesting secondary phases of social develop- 
ment, of which the history of civilization leaves no per- 
ceptible traces, can be known only by this comparative 
method of study ; and these are not, as might be supposed, 
the lowest degrees of evolution, which every one admits 
can be investigated in no other way. And between the 
great historical aspects, there are numerous intermediate 
states which must be observed thus, if at all. This second 
part of the comparative method verifies the indications 
afforded by historical analysis, and fills up the gaps it 
leaves : and nothing can be more rational than the method, 
as it rests upon the established principle that the develop- 
ment of the human mind is uniform in the midst of all 
diversities of climate, and even of race ; such diversities 
having no effect upon anything more than the rate of 
progress. — But we must beware of the scientific dangers 
attending the process of comparison by this method. For 
instance, it can give us no idea of the order of suc- 
cession, as it presents all the states of development as 
co-existing: so that, if the order of development were 
not established by other methods, this one would in- 
fallibly mislead us. And again, if we were not misled as 
to the order, there is nothing in this method which dis- 
closes the filiation of the different systems of society; 
a matter in which the most distinguished philosophers 
have been mistaken in various ways and degrees. Again, 


there is the danger of mistaking modifications for primary 
phases ; as when social differences have been ascribed 
to the political influence of climate, instead of that in- 
equality of evolution which is the real cause. Sometimes, 
but more rarely, the mistake is the other way. In- 
deed, there is nothing in the matter that can show which 
of two cases presents the diversity that is observed. We 
are in danger of the same mistake in regard to races ; for, 
as the sociological comparison is instituted between peoples 
of different races, we are liable to confound the effects of 
race and of the social period. Again, climate comes in to 
offer a third source of interpretation of comparative pheno- 
mena, sometimes agreeing with, and sometimes contra- 
dicting the two others ; thus multiplying the chances of 
error, and rendering the analysis which looked so promising 
almost impracticable. Here, again, we see the indispens- 
able necessity of keeping in view the positive concei)tion 
of human development as a whole. By this alone can we 
be preserved from such errors as I have referred to, and 
enriched by any genuine results of analysis. We see how 
absurd in theory and dangerous in practice are the notions 
and declamations of the empirical school, and of the 
enemies of all social speculation : for it is precisely in pro- 
portion to their elevation and generality that the ideas of 
positive social philosophy become real and effective, — all 
illusion and uselessness belonging to conceptions which 
are too narrow and too special, in the departments either of 
science or of reasoning. But it is a consequence from these 
last considerations that this first sketch of sociological 
science, with the means of investigation that belong to it, 
rests immediately upon the primary use of a new method of 
observation, which is so appropriate to the nature of the 
phenomena as to be exempt from the dangers inherent in 
the others. This last portion of the comparative method is 
the Historical Method, properly so called; and it is the 
only basis on which the system of political logic can rest. 

The historical comparison of the consecu- Comparison of 
tive states of humanity is not only the chief consecutive 
scientific device of the new political philo- states, 
sophy. Its rational development constitutes the substratum 
of the science, in whatever is essential to it. It is this 


which distinguishes it thoroughly from biological science, 
as we shall presently see. The positive principle of this 
separation results from the necessary influence of human 
generations upon the generations that follow, accumulating 
continuously till it constitutes the preponderating con- 
sideration in the direct study of social development. As 
long as this preponderance is not directly recognized, the 
positive study of humanity must appear a simple pro- 
longation of the natural history of Man : but this scientific 
character, suitable enough to the earlier generations, dis- 
appears in the course of the social evolution, and assumes 
at length a wholly new aspect, proper to sociological science, 
in which historical considerations are of immediate impor- 
tance. And this preponderant use of the historical method 
gives its philosophical character to sociology in a logical, 
as well as a scientific sense. Bv the creation of this new 
department of the comparative method, sociology confers a 
benefit on the whole of natural philosophy; because the 
positive method is thus completed and perfected, in a 
manner which, for scientific importance, is almost beyond 
our estimate. What we can now comprehend is that the 
historical method verifies and applies, in the largest way, 
that chief quality of sociological science, — its proceeding 
from the whole to the parts. Without this permanent 
condition of social study, all historical labour would de- 
generate into being a mere compilation of provisional 
materials. As it is in their development especially that 
the various social elements are interconnected and insepar- 
able, it is clear that any partial filiation must be essentially 
untrue. Where, for instance, is the use of any exclusive 
history of any one science or art, unless meaning is given 
to it by first connecting it with the study of human progress 
generally ? It is the same in every direction, and especially 
with regard to political history, as it is called, — as if any 
history could be other than political, more or less ! The 
prevailing tendency to speciality in study would reduce 
history to a mere accumulation of unconnected delineations, 
in which all idea of the true filiation of events would be 
lost amidst the mass of confused descriptions. If the 
historical comparisons of the different periods of civilization 
lire to have any scientific character, they must be referred 



to the general social evolution : and it is only thus that we 
can obtain the guiding ideas by which the special studies 
themselves must be directed. 

In a practical view, it is evident that the preponderance 
of the historical method t^nds to develop the social senti- 
ment, by giving us an immediate interest in even the earliest 
experiences of our race, through the influence that they 
exercised over the evolution of our own civilization. As 
Condorcet observed, no enlightened man can think of the 
battles of Marathon and Salamis without perceiving the 
importance of their consequences to the race at large. 
This kind of feeling should, when we are treating of 
science, be carefully distinguished from the sympathetic 
interest which is awakened by all delineations of human 
life, — in fiction as well as in history. The sentiment I refer 
to is deeper, because in some sort personal; and more 
reflective, because it results from scientific conviction. It 
cannot be excited by popular history, in a descriptive form ; 
but only by positive history, regarded as a true science, and 
exhibiting the events of human experience in co-ordinated 
series which manifest their own graduated connection. 
This new form of the social sentiment must at first be the 
privilege of the choice few ; but it will be extended, some- 
what weakened in force, to the whole of society, in pro- 
portion as the general results of social physics become 
sufficiently popular. It will fulfil the most obvious and 
elementary idea of the habitual connection between indivi- 
duals and contemporary nations, by showing that the 
successive generations of men concur in a final end, which 
requires the determinate participation of each and all. 
This rational disposition to regard men of all times as 
fellow- workers is as yet visible in the case of only the most 
advanced sciences. By the philosophical preponderance of 
the historical method, it will be extended to all the aspects 
of human life, so as to sustain, in a reflective temper, that 
respect for our ancestors which is indispensable to a sound 
state of society and so deeply disturbed at present by the 
metaphysical philosophy. 

As for the course to be pursued by this method, — it 
appears to me that its spirit consists in the rational use of 
social series ; that is, in a successive estimate of the dif- 


ferent states of humanity wliich shall show the growth of 
each disposition, physical, intellectual, moral, or political, 
combined with the decline of the opposite disposition, 
whence we may obtain a scientific prevision of the final 
ascendancy of the one and extinction of the other, — care 
being taken to frame onr conclusions according to the laws 
of human development. A considerable accuracy of pre- 
vision may thus be obtained, for any determinate period, 
and with any particular views ; as historical analysis will 
indicate the direction of modifications, even in the most 
disturbed times. And it is worth noticing that the pre- 
vision will be nearest the truth in proportion as the phe- 
nomena in question are more important and more general ; 
because then continuous causes are predominant in the 
social movement ; and disturbances have less power. From 
these first general aspects, the same rational certainty may 
extend to secondary and special aspects, through their 
statical relations with the first ; and thus we may obtain 
conclusions sufficiently accurate for the application of 

If we desire to familiarize ourselves with this historical 
method, we must employ it first upon the past, by en- 
deavouring to deduce every well-known historical situation 
from the whole series of its antecedents. In every science 
we must have learned to predict the past, so to speak, 
before we can predict the future ; because the first use of 
the observed relations among fulfilled facts is to teach us 
by the anterior succession what the future succession will 
be. No examination of facts can explain our existing state 
to us, if we have not ascertained, by historical study, the 
value of the elements at work ; and thus it is in vain that 
statesmen insist on the necessity of political observation, 
while they look no further than the present, or a very 
recent past. The present is, by itself, purely misleading, 
because it is impossible to avoid confounding principal with 
secondary facts, exalting conspicuous transient manifesta- 
tions over fundamental tendencies, which are generally very 
quiet ; and above all, supposing those powers, institutions, 
and doctrines, to be in the ascendant, which are, in fact, in 
their decline. It is clear that the only adequate corrective 
of all this is a philosophical understanding of the past ; 


that the comparison cannot be decisive unless it embraces 
the whole of the past ; and that the sooner we stop, in travel- 
ling up the vista of time, the more serious will l>e the mis- 
takes we fall into. Before our very eyes, we see statesmen 
going no further back than the last century, to obtain an 
explanation of the confusion in which we are living : the 
most abstract of politicians may take in the preceding 
century, but the philosophers themselves hardly venture 
beyond the sixteenth; so that those who are striving to 
find the issue of the revolutionary period have actually 
no conception of it as a whole, though that whole is itself 
only a transient phase of the general social movement. 

The most perfect methods may, however, be rendered 
deceptive by misuse : and this we must bear in mind. We 
have seen that mathematical analysis itself may betray us 
into substituting signs for ideas, and that it conceals 
inanity of conception under an imposing verbiage. The 
difficulty in the case of the historical method in sociology 
is in applying it, on account of the extreme complexity of 
the materials we have to deal with. But for this, the 
method would be entirely safe. The chief danger is of our 
supposing a continuous decrease to indicate a final extinc- 
tion, or the reverse ; as in mathematics it is a common 
sophism to confound continuous variations, more or less, 
with unlimited variations. To take a strange and very 
marked example : if we consider that part of social develop- 
ment which relates to human food, we cannot but observe 
that men take less food as they advance in civilization. If 
we compare savage with more civilized peoples, in the 
Homeric poems or in the narratives of travellers, or com- 
pare country with town life, or any generation with the 
one that went before, we shall find this curious result, — 
the sociological law of which we shall examine hereafter. 
The laws of individual human nature aid in the result by 
making intellectual and moral action more preponderant as 
Man becomes more civilized. The fact is thus established, 
both by the experimental and the logical way. Yet nobody 
supposes that men will ultimately cease to eat. In this 
case, the absurdity saves us from a false conclusion ; but 
in other cases, the complexity disguises much error in the 
experiment and the reasoning. In the above instance, we 



must resort to the laws of our nature for that verification 
which, taken all together, they afford to our sociological 
analysis. As the social phenomenon, taken as a whole, is 
simply a development of humanity, without any real 
creation of faculties, all social manifestations must be to 
be found, if only in their germ, in the primitive type which 
biology constructed by anticipation for sociology. Thus 
every law of social succession disclosed by the historical 
method must be unquestionably connected, directly or in- 
direptly, with the positive theory of human nature ; and all 
inductions which cannot stand this test will prove to be 
illusory, through some sort of insufficiency in the observa- 
tions on which they are grounded. The main scientific 
strength of sociological demonstrations must ever lie in 
the accordance between the conclusions of historical ana- 
lysis and the preparatory conceptions of the biological 
theory. And thus we find, look where we will, a confirma- 
tion of that chief intellectual character of the new science, 
— the philosophical preponderance of the spirit of the 
whole over the spirit of detail. 

This method ranks, in sociological science, with that of 
zoological comparison in the study of individual life ; and 
we shall see, as we proceed, that the succession of social 
states exactly corresponds, in a scientific sense, with the 
gradation of organisms in biology ; and the social series, 
once clearly established, must be as real and as useful as 
. the animal series. When the method has 

^^fJih^^.^fi.^i l>een used long enough to disclose its pro- 
fourtli method. & ? x .i • i xi, 4. -x -n 

perties, I am disposed to think that it will 

be regarded as so very marked a modification of positive 
research as to deserve a separate place ; so that, in addition 
to Observation, properly so called, Experiment, and Com- 
parison, we shall have the Historical Method, as a fourth 
and final mode of the art of observing. It will be derived, 
according to the usual course, from the mode which imme- 
diately precedes it : and it will be applied to the analysis 
of the most complex phenomena. 

I must be allowed to point out that the new political 
philosophy, sanctioning the old leadings of popular reason, 
restores to History all its scientific rights as a basis of wise 
Bocial speculation, after the metaphysical philosophy had 


striven to induce us to discard all large considerations of 
tlie past. In tlie foregoing departments of natural phi- 
losophy we have seen that the positive spirit, instead of 
being disturbing in its tendencies, is remarkable for con- 
firming, in the essential parts of every science, the inestim- 
able intuitions of popular good sense; of which indeed 
science is merely a systematic prolongation, and which a 
barren metaphysical philosophy alone could despise. In 
this case, so far from restricting the influence which human 
reason has ever attributed to history in political combina- 
tions, the new social philosophy increases it, radically and 
eminently. It asks from history something more than 
counsel and instruction to perfect conceptions which are 
derived from another source: it seeks its own general 
direction, through the whole system of historical con- 

Having reviewed the general character of Sociology, and 
its means of investigation, we must next make out it& 
relations to the other principal sciences. 

JI. s 





THE conditions of the positive philosophy with regard 
to this science are not fulfilled till its relations with 
the other sciences are ascertained. Its establishment in 
its proper place in the hierarchy is a principle of such 
importance that it may be seen to comprehend all the 
philosophical requisites for its institution as a science: 
and it is for want of this that all attempts in our time to 
treat social questions in a positive manner have failed. 
Whether we consider the indispensable data of various 
kinds supplied to sociology by the other sciences, or the 
yet more important requisite of the sound speculative 
habits formed by the preparatory study of them, the daily 
spectacle of abortive attempts to construct a social science 
leaves no doubt that this grand omission is the cause of 
the failure, and of the wrong direction always taken, 
sooner or later, by minds which seemed fitted to accom- 
plish something better. We must, then, review the rela- 
tion of this last of the sciences to all the rest ; but our 
examination of each of them, and of biology especially, has 
so anticipated this part of my subject, that I may pass 
over it very briefly. 

It is a new idea that the science of society is thus con- 
nected with the rest : yet in no case is the relation more 
unquestionable or more marked. Social phenomena 
exhibit, in even a higher degree, the complexity, speciality, 
and personality which distinguish the higher phenomena 
of the individual life. In order to see how this establishes 
the connection in question, we must remember that in the 
social, as in the biological case, there are two classes of 
considerations : — that of Man or Humanity, which consti- 
tut^s the phenomenon, and that of the medium or environ- 


ment, whicli influences this partial and secondary develop- 
ment of one of the animal races. Now, by the first term 
of this couple, sociology is subordinated to the whole of 
the organic philosophy, which discloses to us the laws of 
human nature : and by the second, it is connected with the 
whole system of inorganic philosophy, which reveals to us 
the exterior conditions of human existence. One of the 
two great divisions of philosophy, in short, determines the 
agent concerned in sociological phenomena, and the other 
the medium in which it is developed. It is clear that we 
here take together, and treat as one, the three sections of 
inorganic philosophy, — chemistry, physics, and astronomy, 
— as they all relate equally to the social medium. It will 
be enough if we point out the participation of each, as the 
occasion arises. As to the Method, properly so calledj 
it is, as we have seen, more and more necessary to subject 
studies to the graduated system of prior studies, in propor- 
tion to their increasing complexity. These are the two 
points we have to consider in surveying once more the 
encyclopedical scale, beginning, as before, with the rela- 
tions which are the closest and most direct. We shall 
afterwards have to exhibit the reaction, scientific and 
logical, which sociology, once instituted, must exercise, in 
its turn, on the whole of the preceding sciences : — a reac- 
tion which is, as yet, even less suspected than the primary 
action itself. 

The subordination of social science to t> ^ - 
biology is so evident that nobody denies it sfoW ^ 
in statement, however it may be neglected : 
in practice. This contrariety between the statement and 
the practice is due to something else, besides the faulty 
condition of social studies : it results also from the imper- 
fection of biological science ; and especially from its most 
conspicuous imperfection of all, — that of its highest part, 
relating to intellectual and moral phenomena. It is by 
this portion that biology and sociology are the most closely 
connected ; and cerebral physiology is too recent, and its 
scientific state is too immature, to have admitted, as yet, 
of any proper organization of the relations of the two 
sciences. Whenever the time for that process arrives, the 
connection will be seen to bear two aspects. Under the 


first, biology will be seen to afford the starting-point of all 
social speculation, in accordance with the analysis of the 
social faculties of Man, and of the organic conditions 
which determine its character. But, moreover, as we can 
scarcely at all investigate the most elementary terms of 
the social series, we must construct them by applying the 
positive theory of human nature to the aggregate of corre- 
sponding circumstances, — regarding the small materials 
that we are able to obtain as rather adapted to facilitate 
and improve this rational determination than to show us 
what society really is at so early a period. When the 
social condition has advanced so far as to exclude this kind 
of deduction, the second aspect presents itself; and the 
biological theory of man is implicated with the sociological 
in a less direct and special manner. The whole social 
evolution of the race must proceed in entire accordance 
with biological laws ; and social phenomena must always 
be founded on the necessary invariableness of the human 
organism, the characteristics of which, physical, intellec- 
tual, and moral, are always found to be essentially the 
same, and related in the same manner, at every degree of 
the social scale, — no development of them attendant upon 
the social condition ever altering their nature in the least, 
nor, of course, creating or destroying any faculties what- 
ever, or transposing their influence. No sociological view 
can therefore be admitted, at any stage of the science, or 
under any appearance of historical induction, that is contra- 
dictory to the known laws of human nature. No view can 
be admitted, for instance, which supposes a very marked 
character of goodness or wickedness to exist in the 
majority of men ; or which represents the sympathetic 
affections as prevailing over the personal ones ; or the in- 
tellectual over the affective faculties, etc. In cases like 
these, which are more common than the imperfection of 
the biological theory would lead us to expect, all sociologi- 
cal principles must be as carefully submitted to ulterior 
correction as if they supposed human life to be extrava- 
gantly long, or contravened, in any other way, the physical 
laws of humanity ; because the intellectual and moral con- 
ditions of human existence are as real and as imperative 
a.B its material conditions, though more difficult to esti- 


mate, and therefore less known. Thus, in a biological 
view, all existing political doctrines are radically vicious, 
because, in their irrational estimate of political phenomena, 
they suppose qualities to exist among rulers and the ruled, 
— here an habitual perverseness or imbecility, and there a 
spirit of concert or calculation, — ^which are incompatible 
with positive ideas of human nature, and which would 
impute pathological monstrosity to whole classes ; which is 
simply absurd. An example like this shows what valuable 
resources positive sociology must derive from its subordi-* 
nation to biology; and especially in regard to cerebral 
physiology, whenever it comes to be studied as it ought. 

The students of biology have, however, the same ten- 
dency to exalt their own science at the expense of that 
which follows it, that physicists and chemists have shown 
in regard to biology. The biologists lose sight of histori- 
cal observation altogether, and represent sociology as a 
mere corollary of the science of Man ; in the same way 
that physicists and chemists treat biology as a mere deri- 
vative from the inorganic philosophy. The injury to 
science is great in both cases. If we neglect historical 
comparison, we can understand nothing of the social 
evolution ; and the chief phenomenon in sociology, — the 
phenomenon which marks its scientific originality, — that 
is, the gradual and continuous influence of generations 
upon each other, — would be disguised or unnoticed, for 
want of the necessary key — historical analysis. / From the 
time that the influence of former generations Decomes the 
cause of any modification of the social movement, the 
mode of investigation must accord with the nature of the 
phenomena; and historical analysis therefore becomes 
preponderant, while biological considerations, which 
explained the earliest movements of society, cease to be 
more than a valuable auxiliary and means of control. It 
is the same thing as when, in the study of inorganic 
science, men quit deduction for direct observation. It is 
the same thing as when, in biology, observers proceed 
from contemplating the organism and its medium, to 
analyse the ages of the individual being, as a principal 
means of investigation. The only difference is that the 
change in the instrument is the more necessary the more 


complex are the phenomena to be studied. This would 
have been seen at once, and political philosophy would 
have been admitted to depend on this condition for its 
advance, but for the prevalence of the vicious absolute 
spirit in social speculation, which, neglecting the facts of 
the case, for ever strives to subject social considerations to 
the absolute conception of an immutable political type, no 
less adverse to the relative spirit of positive philosophy 
than theological and metaphysical types, though less in- 
definite. The consequence of this error is that social 
modifications proper to certain periods, and passing away 
with them, are too often supposed to be inherent in 
human nature, and therefore indestructible. Even G-all, 
attending only to imperfect physiological considerations; 
and neglecting the social, wandered off into a sort of 
scientific declamation on the subject of war, declaring the 
military tendencies of mankind to be immutable, notwith- 
standing the mass of historical testimony which shows 
that the warlike disposition diminishes as human develop- 
ment proceeds. A multitude of examples of this kind of 
mistake might be presented ; the most striking of which 
are perhaps in connection with theories of education, which 
are usually formed on absolute principles, to the neglect of 
the corresponding state of civilization. 

The true nature of sociology is evident enough from 
what has been said. We see that it is not an appendix to 
biology, but a science by itself, founded upon a distinct 
basis, while closely connected, from first to last, with 
biology. Such is the scientific view of it. As to the 
method, the logical analogy of the two sciences is so clear 
as to leave no doubt that social philosophers must prepare 
their understandings for their work by due discipline in 
biological methods. This is necessary, not only to put 
them in possession of the general spirit of investigation 
proper to organic science, but yet more to familiarize 
them with the comparative method, which is the grand 
resource of investigation in both sciences. Moreover, there 
is a most valuable philosophical principle common to both 
sciences which remains to be fully developed before it can 
attain its final prevalence ; — I mean the positive version of 
the dogma of final causes, discussed before in connection 

• \ 


witli the conditions of vital existence. This principle, 
being the necessary result of the distinction between the 
statical and the dynamical condition, belongs eminently to 
the study of living bodies, in which that distinction is 
especially marked, and where alone the general idea of it 
can properly be acquired. But, great as is its direct use 
in the study of individual life, it is applicable in a much 
more extensive and essential way in social science. It is by 
means of this principle that the new philosophy, uniting 
the two philosophical meanings of the word necessary, 
exhibits as inevitable that which first presents itself as 
indispensable; and the converse. There must be some- 
thing in it peculiarly in harmony with social investigations, 
as we are led up to it by the most opposite methods of 
•approach ; one evidence of which is De Maistre*s fine 
political aphorism, " Whatever is necessary exists." 

If sociology is thus subordinated to biology. Relation to 
it must be scientifically related to the whole Inorganic 
system of inorganic philosophy, because philosophy, 
biology is so. But it is also connected with that system 
by immediate relations of its own. 

In the first place, it is only by the inorganic philosophy 
that we can duly analyse the entire system of exterior con- 
ditions, chemical, physical, and astronomical, amidst which 
the social evolution proceeds, and by which its rate of pro- 
gress is determined. Social phenomena can no more be 
understood apart from their environment than those of 
individual life. All exterior disturbances which could 
affect the life of individual Man must change his social 
existence; and, conversely, his social existence could not 
be seriously disturbed by any modifications of the medium 
which should not derange his separate condition. I need, 
therefore, only refer to what I have said in regard to the 
influence of astronomical and other conditions on vital 
existence ; for the same considerations bear on the case of 
social phenomena. It is plain that society, as well as 
individual beings, is affected by the circumstances of the 
earth's daily rotation and annual movement ; and by 
states of heat, moisture, and electricity in the surrounding 
medium; and by the chemical conditions of the atmo- 
sphere, the waters, the soil, etc. I need only observe that 


the effect of these influences is even more marked in 
sociology tlian in biology, not only because the organism is 
more complex, and its phenomena of a higher order, but 
because the social organism is regarded as susceptible of 
indefinite duration, so as to render sensible many gradual 
modifications which would be disguised from our notice by 
the brevity of individual life. Astronomical conditions, 
above all others, manifest their importance to living beings 
only by passing from the individual to the social case. 
Much smaller disturbances would visibly affect a social 
condition than would disturb an individual life, which 
requires a smaller concurrence of favourable circumstances. 
For instance, the dimensions of the globe are scientifically 
more important in sociology than in biology, because they 
set bounds to the ultimate extension of population ; a 
circumstance worthy of grave consideration in any positive 
system of political speculation. And this is only one case 
of very many. K we consider, in regard to dynamical con- 
ditions, what would be the effect of any change in the 
degree of obliquity of the ecliptic, in the stability of the 
poles of rotation, and yet more in the eccentricity of the 
earth's orbit, we shall see that vast changes in social life 
must be produced by causes which could not endanger 
individual existence. One of the first reflections that pre- 
sents itself is that positive sociology was not possible till 
the inorganic philosophy had reached a certain degree of 
precision. The very conceptiom of stability in human 
association could not be positively established till the dis- 
covery of gravitation had assured us of the permanence of 
the conditions of life ; and till physics and chemistry had 
taught us that the surface of our planet has attained a 
natural condition, apart from accidents too rare and too 
partial to affect our estimate ; or, at least, that the crust of 
the globe admits of only variations so limited and so 
gradual as not to interfere with the natural course of social 
development, — a development which could not be hoped 
for under any liability to violent and frequent physico- 
chemical convulsions of any extent in the area of human 
life. There is thus more room to apprehend that inorganic 
philosophy is not advanced enough to supply the con- 
ditions of a positive polity, than to suppose that any real 


political philosophy can be framed in independence of in- 
organic science. We have seen before, however, that there 
is a perpetual accordance between the possible and the 
indispensable. What we must have, we are able to obtain ; 
and if there are, as in the case of the mutual action of 
different starrj systems, cosmical ideas which are inac- 
cessible to us, we know, in regard to sociology now, as to 
biology before, that they are of no practical importance to 
us. Wherever we look, over the whole field of science, we 
shall find that, amidst the great imperfection of inorganic 
philosophy, it is suflficiently advanced, in all essential 
respects, to contribute to the constitution of true social 
science, if we only have the prudence to postpone to a 
future time investigations which would now be premature. 
I observed in a former chapter that no disturbing causes, 
acting on social development, could do more than affect its 
rate of progress. This is true of the operation of influences 
from the inorganic world, as of all others. In our review 
of biology we saw that the human being cannot be modified 
indefinitely by exterior circumstances ; that such modifica- 
tions can affect only the degrees of phenomena, without at 
all changing their nature ; and again, that when the dis- 
turbing influences exceed their general limits, the organism 
is no longer modified, but destroyed. All this is, if pos- 
sible, more eminently true of the social than of the individual 
organism, on account of its higher complexity and position. 
The course of its development must therefore be regarded 
as belonging to the essence of the phenomenon itself, and 
therefore essentially identical in all conceivable hypotheses 
about the corresponding medium. It is true we can easily 
imagine, as I said just now, that so delicate an evolution 
may be prevented by external disturbances, and particularly 
astronomical perturbations, which would not destroy the 
race ; but as long as the evolution does proceed, it must be 
supposed subject to the same essential laws, and varying 
only in its speed, as it traverses the stages of which it is 
composed, without their succession or their final tendency 
being ever changed. Such a change would be beyond the 
power of even biological causes. If, for instance, we 
admitted some marked alterations in the human organism, 
or, what comes to the same thing, conceived of the social 


development of another animal race, we must always sup- 
pose a common course of general development. Such is 
the philosophical condition imposed by the nature of the 
subject, which could not become positive, except in as far 
as it could be thus conceived of ; and this is much more 
conspicuously true in regard to inorganic causes. As to 
the rest, this is only another illustration of what we have 
^o often seen in the course of our survey of the scientific 
hierarchy, — that if the less general phenomena occur under 
the necessary preponderance of the more general, this sub- 
ordination cannot in any way alter their proper laws, but 
onlv the extent and duration of their real manifestations. 
Man's action ^^^ consideration remains, of the more 

on the exter- importance because it applies especially to 
jial Avorld. physico-chemical knowledge, which we seem 

to have rather neglected in this sketch for astronomical 
doctrine: I mean the considerations of Man's action on 
the external world, the gradual development of which 
aifords one of the chief aspects of the social evolution, and 
without which the evolution could not have taken place as 
a whole, as it would have been stopped at once by the pre- 
ponderance of the material obstacles proper to the human 
condition. In short, all human progress, political, moral, 
or intellectual, is inseparable from material progression, 
in virtue of the close interconnection which, as we have 
seen, characterizes the natural course of social phenomena. 
Now, it is clear that the action of Man upon nature 
depends chiefly on his knowledge of the laws of inorganic 
phenomena, though biological phenomena must also find a 
place in it. We must bear in mind, too, that physics, and 
yet more chemistry, form the basis of human power, since 
astronomy, notwithstanding its eminent participation in it, 
concurs not as an instrument for modifying the medium, 
but by prevision. Here we have another ground on which 
to exhibit the impossibility of any rational study of social 
development otherwise than by combining sociological 
speculations with the whole of the doctrines of inorganic 

It cannot be necessary to repeat here that 
Education which has been established as true with re- 
gard to the other sciences, and which is more 


^conspicuo^lsly true as each science becomes more complex, 
— ^that an adequate general knowledge of all the preceding 
sciences in the hierarchy is requisite to the understanding 
of the one that follows. In the case of sociology the ab- 
sence of this preparation is the obvious cause of the failure 
of all attempts to regenerate the science. We desire to re- 
cognize in it a positive science, while we leave the condi- 
tions of positivity unfulfilled. We do not even form a just 
idea of the attributes of positivism, of what constitutes the 
explanation of a phenomenon, of the conditions of genuine 
investigation, or of the true intention in which hypotheses 
should be instituted and employed. We must thoroughly 
understand all these conditions, and use them in the naturid 
order of the development of the sciences, venturing neither 
to select nor transpose, but following up the increasing 
complexity of the sciences, and recognizing the increase of 
resources which accompanies it, from astronomy with its 
simplicity of phenomena and of means of research, to 
sociology with its prodigious complexity and abundance of 
resources. Such discipline as this may be difficult ; but it 
is indispensable. It is the only preparatory education which 
can introduce the positive spirit into the formation of social 

It is clear that this education must rest on . . , 

a basisof mathematical philosophy, even apart preparatiorr 
from the necessity of mathematics to the study 
of inorganic philosophy. It is only in the region of mathe- 
matics that sociologists, or anybody else, can obtain a true 
sense of scientific evidence, and form the habit of rational 
and decisive argumentation ; can, in short, learn to fulfil 
the logical conditions of all positive speculations, by study- 
ing universal positivism at its source. This training, ob- 
tained and employed with the more care on account of the 
eminent difficulty of social science, is what sociologists have 
to seek in mathematics. As for any application of number 
and of a mathematical law to sociological problems, if such 
a method is inadmissible in biology, it must be yet more 
decisively so here, for reasons of which I have already said 
enough. The only error of this class which would have de- 
served express notice, if we had not condemned it by antici'- 
pat ion, is the pretension of some geometers to render social 


Pretended investigations positive by subjecting them to 
theory of a fanciful mathematical theory of chances, 
chances. rpj^ig error is in analogy with that of biologists 
who would make sociology to be a corollary or appendix to 
their own science by suppressing the function of historical 
analysis. The error of the geometers is however by far the 
worst of the two, in itself, as well as because mathema- 
ticians are peculiarly tenacious of error, from the abstract 
character of their labours, which dispenses them from the 
close study of nature. Gross as is the illusion, we must 
remember its excusable origin. It was James Bernouilli 
who first conceived the notion ; and the notion affords 
evidence of the nascent need to subject social theories to 
some kind of positivity. None but a high order of mind 
could have so early felt the need ; and if the expedient was 
vicious, there was no better way discernible by any possi- 
bihty at that time. The error was much less pardonable 
when the notion was reproduced by Condorcet, in a more 
direct and systematic way ; and his expectation from it, as 
manifested in his celebrated posthumous work, shows the 
fluctuating state of his mind in regard to the primary con- 
ception of social science. But there is no excuse for La- 
place's repetition of such a philosophical mistake, at a time 
when the general human mind had begun to discern the 
true spirit of political philosophy, prepared as it was for 
the disclosure by the hibours of Montesquieu and Con- 
dorcet himself, and powerfully stimulated besides by a 
new convulsion of society. From that time a succession of 
imitators has gone on repeating the fancy, in heavy alge- 
braic language, without adding anything new, abusing the 
credit which justly belongs to the true mathematical spirit; 
so that, instead of being, as it was a century ago, a token 
of a premature instinct of scientific investigation, this error 
is now only an involuntary testimony to the absolute im- 
potence of the political philosophy that would employ it. 
It is impossible to conceive of a more irrational conception 
than that which takes for its basis or for its operative 
method a supposed mathematical theory, in which, signs 
being taken for ideas, we subject numerical probability to 
calculation, which amounts to the same thing as offering 
our own ignorance as the natural measure of the degree of 


probabiKtj of our various opiuions. While true mathe- 
matical theories have made great progress, for a century 
pajst, this absurd doctrine has undergone no improvement, 
except in some matters of abstract calculation which it has 
given rise to. It still abides in the midst of its circle of 
original errors, while mankind are learning, more and more, 
that the strongest proof of the reality of speculation in any 
science whatever is the fruitfulness of the conceptions be- 
longing to it. 

It is with a feeling of shame that I revert so often to the 
great maxims of philosophical pursuit, and dwell on them 
so long ; that I should have to announce at this time of 
day that we must study simpler phenomena before pro- 
ceeding to the more complex ; and that we should acquaint 
ourselves with the agent of any phenomenon, and with the 
medium or circumstances, before we proceed to analyse it. 
But so different has been the course of political study pur- 
sued in the metaphysical school, that I rather apprehend 
that this high scientific connection will be exactly the part 
of my philosophical doctrine which will be least appreciated, 
and perhaps most contested, even after all the confirmation 
which I am about to offer. The reason of this apprehen- 
sion is that the positive method is in direct opposition to 
our political habit of appealing to all sorts of minds on 
social questions, which they are expected to judge of, with- 
out any regular preparation, as if these problems were 
occasions for inspired decision. It is this consideration 
which makes me attach so special an importance to an ex- 
planation of the relation of Sociology to the other sciences. 

To complete the account of these encyclo- ^ . - 
pedic relations, we must look at the connec- SocioloKV.^ 
tion in an inverse way, estimating the philo- 
sophical reaction of social physics on all the foregoing 
sciences, in regard both to doctrine and method. — It must 
be at the end of the work that I must treat of Sociology as 
completing the whole body of philosophy, and showing that 
the various sciences are branches from a single trunk ; and 
thereby giving a character of unity to the variety of special 
studies that are now scattered abroad in a fatal dispersion. 
In this place I can only point out, in a more special manner, 
the immediate reaction of Sociology on all the rest of natural 


philosopfa J in rirtne of its own scientific and logical pro- 

. ^ t ^ ' In reeard to the doctrine, the essential 

pnnciple of this reaction is found in the 
consideration that all scientific speculations whatever, in 
as far as they are human labours, must necessarily be sub- 
ordinated to the true general theory of human evolution. 
If we could conceive of such a thing as this theory being 
so j^erfected as that no intellectual obstacle should limit 
the abundance of its most exact deductions, it is clear that 
the scientific hierarchy would be, as it were, inverted, and 
would present the different sciences, in an a priori way, as 
mere parts of this single science. We have no power to 
realize such a state of things ; but the mere supposition 
may enable us to comprehend the legitimate general inter- 
vention of true social science in all possible classes of 
human speculation At first sight, it appears as if this 
high intervention must belong to the biological theory of 
our nature ; and it was by that avenue that philosophers 
first caught a glimpse of the conception: and it is per- 
fectly true that the knowledge of the individual man must 
exert a secret, but inevitable influence over all the sciences, 
because our labours bear the ineffaceable impress of the facul- 
ties which produce them. But a close examination will 
convince us that this universal influence must belong more 
to the theory of social evolution that to that of individual 
Man, for the reason that the development of the human 
mind can take place only through the social state, the 
direct consideration of which must therefore prevail when- 
ever we are treating of any results of that development. 
This is, then, in the briefest form, the first philosophical 
ground of the intellectual intervention of social physics in 
the cultivation of all the parts of natural philosophy. 
There will be more to say about it hereafter. 

It is evident that Sociology must perfect the study of the 
essential relations which unite the different sciences, as this 
inquiry constitutes an essential part of social statics, directly 
intended to disclose the laws of such a connection, in the 
same way as in all cases of connection between any of the 
elementB of our civilization. The most marked instance of 
this operation of social science is in the direct study of 


social dynamics, in virtue of the principle, so familiar to us 
hy this time, that true co-ordination must be disclosed by 
the natural course of the common development. All scien- 
tific men who have viewed their own particular subject in a 
large way have felt what important benefit might be afforded 
by corresponding historical information, by regulating the 
spontaneous expansion of scientific discoveries, and warn- 
ing away from deceptive or premature attempts. I need 
not set forth the value that there would be in a history of 
the sciences, which is keenly felt by all who have made any 
important discovery in any science whatever : but, as my 
last chapter proves, no real scientific history, — no theory 
of the true filiation of eminent discoveries, at present exists, 
in any form or degree. We have only compilations of 
materials more or less rational, which may be of some pro- 
visional use, but which cannot be afterwards employed in 
the construction of anv historical doctrine without strict 
revision, and which are certainly in their present state unfit 
to yield any happy scientific suggestions. When a true 
social science shall have been founded, such labours will 
assume the philosophical direction of which they are at 
present destitute, and will aid that development of human 
genius which now, in the form of unorganized erudition, 
they merely impede. If we remember that no science can 
be thoroughly comprehended till its history is understood, 
we shall see what special improvements this new science 
must introduce into each of the rest, as well as into the co- 
ordination of them all. 

This leads us to consider the reaction of * x ht xi j 
. 1 ii ^1 • • J i As to Method, 

sociology on the other sciences in regard to 

Method. Without entering at present upon the great 
subject of a general theory of the positive method, I must 
just point out the established truth that each of the funda-* 
mental sciences specially manifests one of the chief attri- 
butes of the universal positive method, though all are 
present, in more or less force, in each science. The special 
resource of sociology is that it participates directly in the 
elementary composition of the common ground of our in- 
tellectual resources. It is plain that this logical co-opera- 
tion of the new science is as important as that of any of 
the anterior sciences. We have seen that sociology adds to 


our other means of research that which I have called the 
historical method, and which will hereafter, when we are 
sufficiently habituated to it, constitute a fourth funda- 
mental means of observation. But, though sociology has 
given us this resource, it is more or less applicable to aU 
orders of scientific speculation. We have only to regard 
every discovery, at the moment it is effected, as a true 
social phenomenon, forming a part of the general series of 
human development, and, on that ground, subject to the 
laws of succession, and the methods of investigation which 
characterize that great evolution. From this starting- 
point, indisputable in its rationality, we comprehend imme- 
diately the whole necessary universality of the historical 
method, thenceforth disclosed in all its eminent intellectual 
dignity. We can even see that, by this method, scientific 
discoveries become in a certain degree susceptible of rational 
prevision, by means of an exact estimate of the anterior 
movement of the science, interpreted by the laws of the 
course of the human mind. The historical precision can 
hardly become very precise ; but it may furnish preparatory 
indications of the general direction of the contemporary 
progress, so as to save the vast waste of intellectual forces 
which is occasioned by conjectural attempts, usually 
doomed to failure. By this process of comparison of the 
present with the past, in regard to each science, it must 
become possible to subject the art of discovery to a kind of 
rational theory which may guide the instinctive efforts of 
individual genius, which cannot hold its course apart from 
the general mind, however persuaded it may be of its 
separation. The historical method will thus, by governing 
the systematic use of all other scientific methods, impart 
to them an amplitude of rationality in which they are now 
deficient, by transferring to the whole that regulated pro- 
gression which at present belongs only to the details : and 
the choice of subjects for investigation, tiU now almost 
arbitrary, or, at least thoroughly empirical, will acquire, in 
a certain degree, that scientific character which now belongs 
only to the partial investigation of each of them. — The 
method itself must, if it is to accomplish these purposes, be 
subject to the philosophical conditions imposed by the 
positive spirit of sociology. It must never consider the 


development of each complete science, separately from the 
total progression of the human mind, or even from the 
fundamental evolution of humanity. Thus social physics, 
which supplies this method, must superintend its gradual 
application, — at least, in so far as the general conception of 
human development is concerned. Every partial or isolated 
use of this method of investigation, such as suits the desul- 
tory character of research in our day, would be either 
wholly ineffectual, or would realize but little good. There 
are some traces in existing science of this superior means 
of speculation, the positive method being uniform, and 
therefore to be found everywhere if anywhere; but its 
complexity and its recent origin prevent our being able to 
point to examples at once marked and varied enough to 
afford a decisive manifestation. Throughout the whole 
range of our positive knowledge, I know of only one un- 
questionable example ; and that will be found, where we 
should naturally look for it, in mathematical science. We 
find it in the sublime prefatory chapters of the different 
sections of the " Analytical Mechanics,** so little appreciated 
by ordinary geometers because they do not contain a single 
formula, but, in my opinion, proving the eminent philo- 
sophical superiority of Lagrange to all mathematicians since 
Descartes and Leibnitz. By his exposition of the filiation 
of the chief conceptions of the human mind in regard to 
rational mechanics, from the origin of the science to our 
own time, Lagrange certainly anticipated the general spirit 
of the historical method ; because he made this estimate 
the basis of the whole of his own scientific speculations. 
These remarkable writings are admirable food for medita- 
tion not only to geometers, but to all philosophical minds, 
which may find here the only example of what may pro- 
perly be called History, though their author made no pre- 
tension to the common title of historian. 

Thus we see that the reaction of Sociology on the other 
sciences is as important in a logical as in a scientific view. 
On the one hand, positive sociology mutually connects all 
the sciences, and on the other hand, it adds to all resources 
for investigation, a new and a higher method. While, 
from its nature, dependent on all that went before. Social 
Physics repays as much as it receives by its two kinds of 

II. T 


service towards fA\ other knowledge. We can already per- 
ceive that such a science must form the principal band of 
the scientific sheaf, from its various relations, both of sub- 
ordination and of direction, to all the rest. It is in this 
way that the homogeneous co-ordination of real sciences 
proceeds from their positive development, instead of being 
derived from any anti- scientific conceptions of a fanciful 
unity of different phenomena, such as have hitherto been 
almost exclusively resorted to. 

Speculative Social science must always remain inferior 

rank of Socio- in all important speculative respects to all 
^^SV' the other fundamental sciences. Yet we can- 

not but feel, after this review of its spirit, its function, and 
its resources, that the abundance of its means of investiga- 
tion may establish it in a higher position of rationality than 
the present state of the human mind might seem to 
promise. The unity of the subject, notwithstanding its 
prodigious extent, the conspicuous interconnection of its 
various aspects, its characteristic advance from the most 
general to more and more special researches, and finally 
the more frequent and important use of d priori considera- 
tions through suggestions furnished by the anterior sciences, 
and especially by the biological theory of human nature, 
may authorize the highest hopes of the speculative dignity 
of the science, — higher hopes than can be excited by such 
an imperfect realization as I propose to sketch out, the 
purpose of which is to embody, in a direct manner, and by 
sensible manifestations, the more abstract view which I 
have now taken of the general nature of this new political 
philosophy, and of the scientific spirit which should regu- 
late its ulterior construction. 




THOUGH the dynamical part of Social Science is the 
most interesting, the most easily intelligible, and the 
fittest to disclose the laws of interconnection, still the 
statical partjaast no t be entirely passed over. We must 
BrieHyreview intEis^place the conditions' and laws of 
harmony of human society, and complete our statical con- 
ceptions, as far as the nascent state of the science allows, 
when we afterwards survey the historical development of 

Every sociological analysis supposes three mu <. 

1 /» •!•• ^ 1 lJir66 8iSP6CvS« 

classes of considerations, each more complex ^ 

than the preceding : viz., the conditions of social existence 
of the indwdduaJLthe family, and spoigjjtjt; the last com- 
prehendmg, in u scientific sense, the whole of the human 
species, and chiefly, the whole of the white race. 

Grail's cerebral theory ha s d estroyed for eve r th^ niftta- 
jVl^yRTflflFfa.Ti/^iAq ^f the last century about the origin of 
Man's social tendencies, which are now proved to bel in- 
herent in his Tiatnrft j and not thrt rftanlt. nt^ iTh T d* 
utilitarian considerations. The true theory viduaf. ° ^ ' 

has exploded the mistakes through which the ! 

false doctrine arose, — the fanciful supposition that intel- 
lectual combinations govern the general conduct of human 
life, aai-the exaggerat ed notion of the d egree in which 
wants can create faculties. Independently of ihe guidance 
alforded by Gull's theory, there is a conclusive evidence 
against the utilitarian origin of society in the fact that the 
utility did not, and could not, manifest itself till after a 
long preparatory development of the society which it was 
supposed to have created. We shall the better see how 
the supposition involves us in a vicious circle if we attend 





to the character of the early ages of humanity, in which 
the individual advantages of association are very doubtful, 
if indeed we may not safely say that, in many cases, the 
burdens are greater than the resources, as we see only too 
plainly in the lowest ranks of the most advanced societies. 
It is thus evident that the social state would never have 
existed if its rise had depended on a conviction of its indi- 
vidual utility, because the benefit could never have been 
anticipated by individuals of any degree of ability, but 
could only manifest itself after the social evolution had 
proceeded up to a certain point. There are even sophists 
who at this day deny the utility, without being pronounced 
mad; and the spontaneous sociability of human nature, 
independent of all personal calculation, and often in oppo- 
sition to the strongest individual interests, is admitted, as 
of course, by those who have paid no great attention to 
the true biological theory of our intellectual and moral 

Passing over some elementary considerations which 
belong rather to a special treatise on the physiological 
conditions, — such as the natural nakedness of the human 
being, and his helpless and protracted infancy, — which 
have been much exaggerated as social influences, since they 
exist in some animal races without producing the same 
social consequences, — I proceed to estimate the influence 
of the most important attributes of our nature in giving to 
society the fundamental character which belongs to it, and 
which remains permanent through all degrees of its develop- 
ment. In this view, the first consideration is of the pre- 
ponderance df the affective over the mtellectual ta cultiea^ 
wiiicli, though less rSiiiarSiible tn liran than in other 
animals, yet fixes the first essential idea of our true nature. — 
Though continuous action is, in all cases, an indispensable 
condition of success, Man, like every other animal, has a 
natural dislike to such perseverance, and at first finds 
pleasure only in a varied exercise of his activity, — the 
variety being of more importance to him than moderation 
in degree, — especially in the commonest cases, in which no 
strongly -marked instinct is concerned. The intellectual 
faculties being naturally the least energetic, their activity, 
if ever so little protracted beyond a certain degree, occa- 


sions in most men a fatigue which soon becomes utterly 
insupportable; and it is in regard to them chiefly that 
men of all ages of civilization relish that state of which 
the dolce far nient e is the most perfect expression. Never- 
theless, it is on the persevering use of these high faculties 
that the modifications of human life, general and individual, 
depend, during the course of our social development, so 
that we are met at once by the melancholy coincidence 
that Man is most in need of precisely the kind of activity 
for which he is the least fit. His physical imperfections 
and moral necessities compel him, more than any other 
animal, to employ his reason in amending his primitive 
condition ; while his reason is so far from being adequate 
to its work that it is subject to an irresistible fatigue which 
can be moderated only by strong and constant stimulus. 
Instead of lamenting over this discordance, we must receive 
it as a first authentic information supplied to social science 
by biology, and one which must radically affect the general 
character of human society first, and afterwards the rate 
of the social evolution. The consequence which imme- 
diately concerns us here is, that almost all men are 
naturally unfit for intellectual labour, and devoted to 
material activity ; so that the speculative state cannot well 
be produced, much less sustained, in them but by some 
impulse of another kind, kept up by lower but stronger 
propensities. However important individual differences 
in this respect may be, the differences are of degree only, 
so that the most eminent natures hold their place in the 
comparison ; and men must be classed, in a scientific sense, 
by the nobleness or increasing speciality of the affective 
faculties by which the intellectual incitement is produced. 
If we observe the ascending scale of these faculties, upon 
G-airs theory, we see that, among the generality of men, 
the intellectual tension is (with some exceptions of that 
speculative impulse to which all human beings are liable) 
habitually supported only by the strong stimulus derived 
from the needs of the organic life, and the commonest 
instincts of the animal life, the organs of which lie at the 
back of the brain. The individual nature of man becomes 
lofty in proportion as the incitement proceeds from pro- 
pensities which are of a higher order, more peculiar to our 




species, and placed, anatomically, further forward in the 
brain, while yet the activity of the intellectual region can 
never, in the noblest cases, be independent of such stimulus, 
unless the habit of meditation has actually become pre- 
ponderant, — a case too rare to be considered in a general 
view. — Lest we should form a false philosophical estimate 
/ of our case, I may observe that, however we may regret 
■ the degree in which our intellectual faculties are less active 
than the lower, we must beware of wishing that the case 
was reversed. If our affective faculties were subordinated 
to the intellectual, all idea of improving the social organism 
would be merely senseless. It would be like polishing our 
roads, instead of merely diminishing their friction, which 
would not improve the accustomed locomotion, but render 
its mechanism contradictory to the fundamental laws of 
motion. For our affective faculties must preponderate, 
not only to rouse our reason from its natural lethargy, but 
to give a permanent aim and direction to its activity, 
without which it would be for ever lost in vague abstract 
speculation. Even under our actual conditions, which 
subject the wildest reveries to more or less control of 
reality, we see how the most mystical efforts of pious 
ecstasy to conceive of an ideal state, exempt from organic 
wants and from all human passions, have issued, even in 
the highest minds, in conceptions of a sort of transcen- 
dental idiotcy, eternally absorbed in a foolish and almost 
stupid contemplation of the divine majesty. Our social 
organism is, then, what it ought to be, except as to degree ; 
and we must observe and remember that it is in our power, 
within certain narrow limits, to rectify this degree of 
difference; or rather, that the rectification takes place in 
proportion to the steady development of civilization, w hich 
tends to aub ordi natft o^ y propftiisitiea to our re ason^ mor e 
and more, without . jiYi^g„.us...any: ..cauae. tQ. a££reliend_a 
reversal of the order at any future timj 

/ Th« Hii(i6nd consideration is that, besides the preponder- 

' ance of the affective over the intellectual life, the lowest 

and most personal propensities have, in regard to social 

relations, an unquestionable preponderance over the nobler. 

According to the sound biological theory of man, our social 

affectiona are inferior in strength and steadiness to the 


personal, though the common welfare must depend espe- 
ciallv on the regular satisfaction of the former, which first 
originate the social state for us, and then maintain it 
against the divergencies of individual instincts. To under- 
stand the sociological value of this biological datum, we 
must observe, as in the former case, that the condition is 
necessary, and that it is only its degree that we have to 
deplore. In analogy with the former case, personal in- 
stincts must give an aim and direction to our social action. 
All notions of public good must be based upon those of 
private advantage, because the former can be nothing else 
than that which is common to all cases of the latter : and, 
under no ideal refinement of our nature, could we ever 
habitually desire for others anything else but what we 
wish for ourselves, — unless in those infinitely rare and very 
secondarv cases in which an excessive refinement of moral 
delicacy, fostered by intellectual meditation, may enable a 
man to appreciate for another means of happiness which 
are of little or no value to himself. Our moral nature 
would then be destroyed, and not improved,, if it were 
possible to repress our personal instincts, since our social 
affections, deprived of necessary direction, would degenerate 
into a vague and useless charity, destitute of all practical 
efficacy. When the morality of an advanced society bids 
us love our neighbours as ourselves, it embodies in the 
best way the deepest truth, with only such exaggeration as 
is required in the formation of a type, which is always 
fallen short of in practice. In this sublime precept, the 
personal instinct is the guide and measure of the social ; 
and in no other way could the principle be presented ; for 
in what respect and how could any one love another who 
did not love himself ? Thus, again, we may be satisfied 
with the nature of Man, though not with the degree of his 
self-regards. We must regret that even in the best natures, 
the social affections are so overborne by the personal, as 
rarely to command conduct, in a direct way. In this sense, 
we may conceive, after a comparison of the two cases I 
have presented, that the sympathetic instinct and the 
intellectual activity are especially destined to compensate 
mutually their common social insufficiency. We may say, 
indeed, that if Man became more benevolent, that would 


be equivalent in social practice to his being more intelligent, 
not only because he would put his actual intelligence to 
better use, but because it would not be so much absorbed 
by the discipline which it must be constantly imposing on 
the strong preponderance of the personal propensities. 
But the converse supposition is not less exact, though it is 
less appreciable; for all real intellectual development is 
finally equivalent, in regard to the conduct of life, to 
a direct augmentation of natural benevolence, both by 
strengthening Man's empire over his passions, and by 
refining the habitual sense of the reactions occasioned by 
various social contact. If we admit, in the first case, that 
no great intellect can duly expand without a certain 
amount of universal benevolence, by which alone it can 
have free impulse, a lofty aim, and large exercise; so, 
inversely, we cannot doubt that all noble intellectual ex- 
pansion fortifies general sympathy, not only by casting out 
selfish instigations, but by inspiring a wise predilection in 
favour of social order, which may, notwithstanding its 
ordinary coldness, concur as fortunately in the maintenance 
of social harmony as dispositions which are more lively 
and less steady. The reciprocal connection of those two 
chief moderators of human life, intellectual activity and 
the social instinct, seems thus to be unquestionable: and 
the, first function of universal morals, in regard to the 
individual, consists in increasing this double influence, the 
gradual extension of which constitutes the first spontaneous 
result of the general development of humanity. And the 
double opposition between Man's moral and material need 
of intellectual toil and his dislike of it, and again, between 
Man's need, for his own happiness, of the social affections, 
and the necessary subjection of these to his personal in- 
stincts, discloses the scientific germ of the struggle which 
we shall have to review, between the conservative and the 
reforming spirit ; the first of which is animated by purely 
personal instincts, and the other by the spontaneous com- 
bination of intellectual activity with the various social 

So much for the first statical division, — the Individual. 
Next, we must consider the Family. 

As every system must be composed of elements of the 


same nature witli itself, the scientific spirit „ TheF ilv 
forbids us to regard society as composed of ' ^* 

individuals. The true social unit is certainly the family, — 
reduced, if necessary, to the elementary couple which forms 
its basis. This consideration implies more than the phy- 
siological truth that families become tribes, and tribes be- 
come nations : so that the whole human race might be 
conceived of as the gradual development of a single family, 
if local diversities did not forbid such a supposition. 
There is a political point of view from which also we must 
consider this elementary idea, inasmuch as the family pre- 
sents the true germ of the various characteristics of the 
social organism. Such a conception is intermediate be- 
tween the idea of the individual and that of the species, or 
society. There would be as many scientific inconveniences 
in passing it over in a speculative sense as there are dangers 
in practice in pretending to treat of social life without the 
inevitable preparation of the domestic life. Whichever way 
we look at it, this necessary transition always presents 
itself, whether in regard to elementary notions of funda- 
mental harmony, or for the spontaneous rise of social senti- 
ment. It is by this avenue that Man comes forth from his 
mere personality, and learns to live in another, while obey- 
ing his most powerful instincts. No other association can 
be so intimate as this primary combination, which causes a 
complete fusion of two natures in one. Owing to the 
radical imperfection of the human character, individual 
divergencies are too marked to admit of so close an associa- 
tion in any other case. The common experience of human 
life teaches us only too well that men must not live too 
familiarly together, if they are to bear, in mutual peace, 
the infirmities of our nature, — ^whether of the intellect or 
the affections. Even religious communities, united as they 
are by a special bond, were, as we know, perpetually tor- 
mented by internal dissensions, such as it is impossible to 
avoid if we attempt to reconcile qualities so incompatible as 
the intimacy and the extension of human relations. Even 
in the family, the intimacy is owing to the strong spon- 
taneousness of the common end, combined with the equally 
natural institution of an indispensable subordination. 
Whatever talk there may be, in modem times, of social 


equality, even the most restricted society supposes, not 
only diversities, but inequalities ; for there can be no asso- 
ciation without a permanent concurrence in a general opera- 
tion, pursued by distinct means, mutually subordinated. 
Now, the most entire realization possible of these elemen- 
tary conditions is inherent in the family alone, where nature 
has supplied all the requisites of the institution. Thus, 
notwithstanding the temporary abuse of the family spirit 
in the way of excess, which has occasionally brought 
reproach on the institution, it is, and will ever be, the basis 
of the social spirit, through all the gradual modifica-tions 
which it may have to undergo in the course of the human 
evolution. The serious assaults upon this institution which 
we witness in our day must, therefore, be regarded as the 
most alarming symptoms of our temporary tendency to 
social disorganization. But such a direction of the revolu- 
tionary spirit is a dangerous system only on account of the 
decrepitude of the belief on which the idea of the Family, 
like every other social idea, is made to rest. As long as the 
y, family relation has no other intellectual basis than religious 
doctrine, it will share whatever discredit belongs to that 
doctrine in the present state of human development. The 
Positive philosophy, which reorganizes whatever it touches, 
can alone re-establish the conception on an immutable 
foundation, by transferring all social speculation from 
the region of vague ideality to the ground of indisputable 

The constitution of the human family has undergone 
modifications of a progressive kind which appear to me to 
disclose, at each epoch of development, the exact importance 
of the change wrought in the corresponding social state. 
Thus, the polygamy of less advanced nations must give a 
character to the family wholly different from that which it 
has among nations which are capable of that monogamy to 
which our nature tends. In the same way, the ancient 
family, which consisted partly of slaves, must be very un- 
like the modern, which is mainly reduced to the kindred of 
the couple, and in which the authority of the head is com- 
paratively small. But the estimate of these modifications 
will find its right place in my historical review. Our 
object now is to consider the elementary scientific aspect of 


the family ; that aspect which is made common to all social 
cases bj regarding the domestic as the basis of all social 
life. In this view, the sociological theory of the family is 
reducible to the investigation of two orders of relations, 
viz., the subordination of the sexes, which institutes the 
family, and that of ages, which maintains it. A certain 
amount of voluntary association takes place from that de- 
gree of the biological scale at which sex begins ; and it is 
always occasioned by the sexual union first, and then by the 
rearing of progeny. If the sociological comparison must 
stop at the two great classes of superior animals, birds and 
mammifers, it is because none below them present a suffi- 
ciently complete realization of this double elementary 

We cannot too reverently admire that . , 

universal natural disposition, on which all relation"* 
association is grounded, by which, in the 
state of marriage, however imperfect, the strongest instinct 
of our animal nature, at once satisfied and disciplined, 
occasions harmony instead of the disorder which would 
arise from its license. It was not to be expected that, when 
the revolutionary spirit was attacking everything else, 
it should allow marriage to escape, — connected as it has 
hitherto been with the theological philosophy. When the 
positive philosophy shall have established the subordina- 
tion of the sexes, and in that, the principle of marriage and 
of the family, it will take its stand on an exact knowledge 
of human nature, followed by an appreciation of social de- 
velopment as a whole, and of the general phase which 
it now presents ; and in doing this it will extinguish the 
fancies by which the institution is at present discredited 
and betrayed. No doubt Marriage, like every other human 
concern, undergoes modifications as human development 
proceeds. Modem marriage, as constituted by Catholicism, 
is radically different, in various respects, from Roman 
marriage, as that differed from the G-reek, and both, in a 
much greater degree, from the Egyptian or Oriental, even 
after the establishment of monogamy. It is undisputed that 
these modifications have not come to any end, and that the 
great social reconstitution for which we are looking will 
establish the general character of the association^ which alL 


preceding modifications have progressively developed. 
Meantime, the absolute spirit of the existing political 
philosophy mistakes such modifications for an overthrow of 
the institution ; a state of things very analogous to that of 
the ancient times, when the Greek philosophy was about to 
make way for the Christian regeneration of the family and 
of society, and when fantastical errors, caused by the long 
intellectual interregnum gave occasion to the famous satire 
of Aristophanes, which we may accept as a rude rebuke of 
our own licentiousness. 

What the ultimate conditions of marriage will be, we 
cannot know as yet ; and if we could, this is not the place to 
\ treat of them. It is enough for our purpose to be assured 
\ that they will be consonant with the fundamental principle 
of the institution, — the natural subordination of the woman, 
which has reappeared under all forms of marriage, in all 
ages, and which the new philosophy will place on its right 
' basis, — a knowledge of the individual organism first, and 
then of the social organism. Biological philosophy teache s 
us that, through the whole animal scale, and while the 
specific type is preserved, radical differences, physical and 
moral, distinguish the sexes. Comparing sex with age, 
biological analysis presents the female sex, in the human 
I species especially, as constitutionally in a state of perpetual 
; infancy, in comparison with the other ; and therefore more 
remote, in all important respects, from the ideal type of 
the race. Sociology will prove that the equality of the 
' sexes, of which so much is said, is incompatible with 
all social existence, by showing that each sex has special 
and permanent functions which it must fulfil in the natural 
economy of the human family, and which concur in a 
common end by different ways, the welfare which results 
being in no degree injured by the necessary subordination, 
' since the happiness of every being depends on the wise de- 
velopment of its proper nature. 

We have seen that the preponderance of the affective 
faculties is less marked in Man than in the lower animals, 
and that a certain degree of spontaneous speculative 
activity is the chief cerebral attribute of humanity, as well 
as the prime source of the marked character of our social 
organism. Now, the relative inferiority of Woman in this 


view is incontestable, unfit as she is, in comparison, for the 
requisite continuousness and intensity of mental labour, 
either from the intrinsic weakness of her reason or from her 
more lively moral and physical sensibility, which are hostile 
to scientific abstraction and concentration. This indubit- 
able organic inferiority of feminine genius has been con- 
firmed by decisive experiment, even in the fine arts, and 
amidst the concurrence of the most favourable circum- 
stances. As for any functions of government, the radical 
inaptitude of the female sex is there yet more marked, even 
in regard to the most elementary state, and limited to the 
guidance of the mere family, the nature of the task requir- 
ing, above everything, an indefatigable attention to an 
aggregate of complex relations, none of which must be 
neglected, while the mind must be independent of the 
passions ; in short, reasonable. Thus, the economy of the 
human family could never be inverted without an entire 
change in our cerebral organism, and the only possible 
result of a resistance to natural laws would be to deprive 
Woman of the enjoyment of her proper welfare by disturb- 
ing the family and society. Again, we have seen that, in 
the affective life of Man, the personal instincts overrule the 
sympathetic or social, which last can, and do, only modify 
the direction decided by the first, without becoming the 
habitual moving powers of practical existence. Here again, 
by a comparative examination, we can estimate the happy 
social position appropriated to the female sex. It is indis- 
putable that women are, in general, as superior to men in 
a spontaneous expansion of sympathy and sociality, as they 
are inferior to men in understanding and reason. Their 
function in the economy of the family, and consequently of 
society, must therefore be to modify by the excitement of the i 
social instinct the general direction necessarily originated ) 
by the cold and rough reason which is distinctive of Man. 
Apart from all consideration of material differences, and 
contemplating exclusively the noblest properties of our 
cerebral nature, we see that, of the two attributes which 
separate the human race from the brutes, the primary one 
indicates the necessary and invariable preponderance of the 
male sex, while the other points out the moderating func- 
tion which is appropriate to Woman, even independently of 


maternal cares, which evidently constitute her most impor- 
tant special destination, but which are usually too ex- 
clusively insisted on, so as to disguise the direct social and 
personal vocation of the female sex. 

»,, „ , The other great element of the human 

relation. family is the relation between parents and 

children, which, spread abroad through the 
whole of society, produces the natural subordination of 
ages. The discipline prescribed by nature in this relation 
is too unquestionable to admit of the same attacks of the 
revolutionary spirit which have been directed towards the 
preceding relation. The ardent champions of the political 
rights of women have not yet offered an analogous doctrine 
in regard to children, who are less able to stimulate the 
zeal of their special champions. Wild as are the eccen- 
tricities of our social anarchy, popular good sense, however 
imperfect it may still be, imposes some restraint on indi- 
vidual absurdities when they go so far as to shock a pri- 
mary instinct. 

There is certainly no natural economy more worthy of 
admiration than that spontaneous subordination which, 
first constituting the human family, then becomes the type 
of all wise social co-ordination. The testimony of ages has 
done honour to this type ; and when Man has formed his 
conception of providential government on the most perfect 
direction of events that he could conceive, he has taken 
this institution for his model. There is no other case 
which offers, in the same degree, the most respectful spon- 
taneous obedience, on the part of the inferior, without the 
least degradation ; an obedience imposed by necessity first, 
and then by gratitude ; and nowhere else do we see in the 
superior party the most absolute authority united to entire 
devotedness, too natural and too genial to be regarded as 
duty. These characteristics must become weakened in the 
case of wider and less intimate relations ; the submission 
cannot be so complete and spontaneous, nor the protection 
so affectionate and devoted. But family life will, never- 
theless, be eternally the school of social hfe, both for 
obedience and for command, which will be excellent in 
proportion to their approach to this model; and in the 
future, as in the past, the modifications of society will 



correspond with those which human progression must 
occasion in the domestic constitution. In all critical 
periods, however, there have been false reasoners who have 
argued from the inconveniences which attend this institu- 
tion, like every other, against the organization itself, and 
who would mend it by means of a total inversion, — pro- 
posing to make society the model of the family ; at a time, 
too, when society is in no condition to serve as a type for 
any kind of orderly arrangement. All domestic discipline 
would be impossible under a system which would take 
from parents the guidance and almost the acquaintance of 
their children, through a monstrous exaggeration of the 
influence of society on the education of youth; and 4* 

cbiidren, of the hereditary transmission of their parents' 
property, accumulated on their behalf, — obedience and 
authority being thus successively destroyed. This work is ' 
not the place in which to examine such extravagances ; but 
it was necessary to refer to this particular delusion in order 
to show the fitness of the positive polity to consohdate all 
the primary ideas of social order, amidst the confusion 
attending the decline of the theological philosophy. Here, 
as everywhere else, we shall find the positive philosophy 
subordinating all schemes of artificial order to the observa- 
tion of natural order : and we shall perceive that the modi- 
fications wrought out by the social evolution are superior 
to any that the most eminent reformers would have 
ventured to conceive of beforehand, — a fact which should 
teach us not to interfere with the succession of different 
portions of the reorganization by attempting to renovate 
everything at once, down to the smallest details, according 
to the routine of modem constitutions. 

We must not omit the striking property of domestic 
organization, — that it establishes the elementary idea of 
social perpetuity, by directly and irresistibly connecting the 
future with the past. When duly generalized, the idea and 
the feeling pass on from the immediate parents to ancestors, 
and issue in that universal respect for our predecessors 
which is an indispensable condition of all social economy. 
There is no social state which does not present evidences of •" 
it. The diminishing influence of traditions as human deve- 
lopment proceeds, and the growing preference of writ<ie.\v^^ 


oral transmission, must modify the expression of the senti- 
ment among the modems, if not the sentiment itself ; but 
whatever point social progression may attain, it will always 
be supremely important that Man should not regard him- 
self as a being of yesterday, and that the whole of his 
institutions and customs should connect, by a system of 
intellectual and material tokens, his remembrances of the 
entire past with his hopes for the future. The tendency of 
/ the revolutionary philosophy is to foster a disdain of the 
past, on accoxmt of its polities ; and I need not add that 
the positive philosophy, which takes history for its scientific 
basis, which represents all the men of all times as co- 
operating in the same evolution, and which perseveringly 
connects all existing progress with the whole of antecedent 
human action, is thoroughly adapted to confirm the idea 
and sentiment of soQial continuity. In fact, we see that 
the region of the positive sciences is the only one in which 
this reverent co-ordination of the present with the past, has 
withstood the encroachments of the revolutionary philo- 
sophy, which, in every other connection, would almost 
have us believe that reason and justice are creations of our 
own day. 

It is not necessary to enlarge here on the fraternal rela- 
tion, though it would obtain its share of attention if we 
were engaged in forming a constitution of society. For our 
purposes here, the brotherly relation offers little subject of 
remark, interesting as it is from the sweetness or the 
bitterness which it sheds over private life. If the brothers 
are nearly of the same age, there is little subordination in 
the case : and if the difference in age is sufficient to admit 
of that subordination, the relation becomes, for analytical 
purposes, like that of parent and child. All that it is in 
our way to remark here is that true social science will never 
fail, either in studying the past, or speculating on the 
future, to assign the rank of absolute requisites to all 
elements which have, through all time, constituted an 
essential part of the domestic hierarchy. Discarding all 
Utopian fancies, and proposing to observe the economy of 
real society, we must bring into our scientific analysis all 
the arrangements which, by their steady permanence, indi- 
cate their grave importance. 


The third head of our statical analysis brings us to the 

consideration of society, as composed of families and not of 

individuals, and from a point of view which commands all 

times and places. 

'^The main cause of the superiority of the « g^ -^^.^ 
.,,,,.,..,, .^ . ^ T 3. SSociety. 

social to the individual organism is, according 
to an established law, the more marked speciality of the 
various functions fulfilled by organs more and more dis- 
tinct, but interconnected^ so that unity of aim is more and 
more combined with diversity of means. We cannot, of 
course, fully appreciate a phenomenon which is for ever 
proceeding before our eyes, and in which we bear a part ; 
but if we withdraw ourselves in thought from the social 
system, and contemplate it as from afar, can we conceive 
of a more marvellous spectacle, in the whole range of 
natural phenomena, than^he regular and constant conver- 
gence of an innumerable multitude of human beings, each 
possessing a distinct and, in a certain degree, independent 
existence, and yet incessantly disposed, amidst all the^r 
discordance of talent and character, to concur in many 
ways in the same general development, without concert, 
and even consciousness on the part of most of theSK who 
believe that they are merely following their personal im- 
pulses ? Thia is the scientific picture of the phenomenon^ 
and no temporary disturbances can prevent its being, under 
all circumstances, essentially true, ^his reconciliation of ^ 
the individuality of labour with co-operation of endeavours,, 
which becomes more remarkable as society grows more 
complex and extended, constitutes the radical character of 
human operations when we rise from the domestic to the 
social point of view\ The degree of association that we 
observe among the superior animals has something volun- 
tary in it, but there is no organization which can make it 
resemble the human : and the first individual specializing- 
of common functions is seen in our simple domestic life, 
which is thus a type of the social organization. The 
division of labour can never, however, be very marked in j. 
the family, because the members are few ; and yet more 
because such a division would soon show itself to be hostile 
to the spirit of the institution ; for domestic training, being 
founded on imitation, must dispose the children to follow 



parental employments, instead of undertaking new onet 
and again, any very marked separation in the employmen" 
of the members must impair the domestic unity which 
the aim of the association. The more we look into tl: 
subject, the more we shall see that the appropriation < 
employments, which is the elementary principle of generi 
society, cannot hold anything like so important a place i 
the family. In fact, the domestic relations do not const 
tute an association, but a union, in the full force of tl 
term ; and, on account of this close intimacy, the domest 
connection is of a totally different nature from the socia 
Its character is essentially moral, and only incidental] 
intellectual ; or, in anatomical language, it corresponc 
more to the middle than to the anterior part of the braii 
Founded chiefly upon attachment and gratitude, tl 
domestic union satisfies, by its mere existence, all oi 
sympathetic instincts, quite apart from all idea of acti^ 
and continuous co-operation towards any end, unless it l 
that of its own institution. Though more or less co-ordins 
tion of different employments must exist, it is so secondai 
an affair that when, unhappily, it remains the only princip] 
of connection, the domestic union degenerates into mei 
association, and is even too likely to dissolve altogethe 
In society the elementary economy presents an invert 
character, the sentiment of co-operation becoming prepoi 
derant, and the sympathetic instinct, without losing ii 
steadiness, becoming secondary. No doubt there are 
multitude of men well enough organized to love the: 
fellow-labourers, however numerous or remote they ma 
be, and however indirect may be their co-operation ; bi 
such a sentiment, arising from the reaction of the reaso 
upon the social feelings, could never be strong enough t 
guide social life. Even under the best circumstances th 
intellectual mediocrity of the majority of men does nc 
allow them to form any distinct idea of relations whic 
are too extensive, too indirect, and too foreign to their ow 
occupations to impart any sympathetic stimulus whic 
could be of permanent use. >lt is only in domestic life ths 
Man can habitually seek the full and free expansion of hi 
social affections ; and perhaps this is the chief reason wh 
it is the last indispensable preparation for social lifS^ fc 


concentration is as necessary to the feelings as generaliza- 
tion to the thoughts. Even the most eminent men, who 
direct their sympathetic instincts upon their race at large 
or the society in which they live, are usually impelled to 
this by the moral disappointments of a domestic life which 
has failed Id some of its conditions ; and however genial the 
imperfect compensation may be to them, this abstract love 
of their species admits of nothing like that satisfaction of 
the affectioEs which arises from a very limited, and espe- 
cially an individual attachment. However this may be, 
such cases are besides too evidently exceptional to affect 
any inquiry into the social economy. Thus, though the 
sympathetic instinct exists wherever there is association, 
more or less, the principle of co-operation is that which 
must prevail, when we pass on from the consideration of 
the family to the general co-ordination of families. To 
attribute to it the formation of the social state, as it was the 
fashion of the last century to do, is a capital error ; but, 
when the association has once begun, there is nothing like 
this principle of co-operation for giving consistency and 
character to the combination. In the lower stages of savage 
life we see families combining for a temporary purpose, 
and then returning, almost like the brutes, to their isolated 
independence, as soon as the expedition, which is usually 
one of war or the chase, is ended, though already some 
common opinions, expressed in a certain uniform language, 
are preparing them for permanent union in tribes, more or 
less numerous. /It is upon the principle of co-operation, 
then, spontaneous or concerted, that we must found our 
analysis of the last division of social static^ 

We must include in our view of the division ^. . •, .. 
of employments something much more exten- emplovments^ 
sive than the material arrangements which 
the expression is usually understood to convey. We must 
include under it all human operations whatever, regarding 
not only individuals and classes, but also, in many ways, 
different nations, as participating, in a special mode and 
degree, in a vast common work, the gradual development 
of which connects the fellow-labourers with the whole 
series of their predecessors, and even with their successors. 
This is what is meant when we speak of the race being 


bound up together by the very distribution of their occupa- 
tions ; and it is this distribution which causes the extent 
and growing complexity of the social organism, which thus 
appears as comprising the whole of the human race. Man 
can hardly exist in a solitary state : the family can exist in 
isolation, because it can divide its employments and provide 
for its wants in a rough kind of way: a spontaneous 
approximation of families is incessantly exposed to tem- 
/ porary rupture, occasioned by the most trifling incidents. 
But when a regular division of employments has spread 

/ through any society, the social state begins to acquire a 
consistency and stability which place it out of danger from 
particular divergencies. The habit of partial co-operation 
convinces each family of its close dependence on the rest, 
and, at the same time, of its own importance, each one 
being then justified in regarding itself as fulfilling a real 
public function, more or less indispensable to the general 
economy, but inseparable from the system as a whole. In 
this view the social organization tends more and more to 
rest on an exact estimate of individual diversities, by so 
distributing employments as to appoint each one to the 
destination he is most fit for, from his own nature (which 
however is seldom very distinctly marked), from his educa- 
tion and his position, and, in short, from all his qualifica- 
tions ; so that all individual organizations, even the most 
vicious and imperfect (short of monstrosity), may be finally 
made use of for the general good. Such is, at least, the 
social type which we conceive of as the limit of the existing 
social order, and to which we may be for ever approximat- 
ing, though without the hope of ever attaining it ; and it 
is, in fact, a reproduction, with a large extension, of the 
domestic organism, with less power, in proportion to its 
extent, of appointing a due destination to every member ; 
so that the social discipline must always be more artificial, 
and therefore more imperfect, than the domestic, which 
nature herself ordains and administers. 

The necessities of this co-operation and distribution of 
special offices, cause inconvenience which I am compelled to 
advert to ; for it is in the investigation of these that we 

J find the scientific germ of the relation between the idea of 
society and that of government. 


SoiDe economists have pointed out, but in ^ 

, , ,f .11. Inconveniences, 

a very inadequate way, the evils or an ex- 
aggerated division of material labour ; and I have indicated, 
in regard to the more important field of scientific labour, 
the mischievous intellectual consequences of the spirit of 
speciality which at present prevails. It is necessary to 
estimate directly the principle of such an influence, in 
order to understand the object of the spontaneous system 
of requisites for the continuous preservation of society. In 
decomposing, we always disperse ; and the distribution of 
human labours must occasion individual divergencies, both 
intellectual and moral, which require, a permanent disci- 
pline to keep them within bounds. ^If the separation of 
social functions developes a useful spirit of detail, on the 
one hand, it tends, on the other, to extinguish or to restrict 
what we may call the aggregate or general spirit. In the 
same way, in moral relations, while each individual is in 
close dependence on the mass, he is drawn away from it by 
the expansion of his special activity, constantly recalling 
him to his private interest, which he but very dimly per- 
ceives to be related to the public^ On both groundsM;he 
inconveniences of the division of functions increase with 
its characteristic advantages, without their being in the 
same relation, throughout the spontaneous course of the 
social evolution. The growing speciality of habitual ideas 
and familiar relations must tend to restrict the under- 
standing more and more, while sharpening it in a certain 
direction, and to sever more and more the private interest 
from a public interest which is for ever becoming more 
vague and indirect ; while, at the same time, the social 
affections, gradually concentrated among individuals of the 
same profession, become more and more alienated from all 
other classes, for want of a sufficient analogy of ways and 
ideas. Thus it is that the principle by which alone gene- 
ral society could be developed and extended, threatens, in 
another view, to decompose it into a multitude of uncon- 
nected corporations, which almost seem not to belong to 
the same species ;\and hence it is that the gradual expan- 
sion of human ability seems destined to produce such 
minds as are very common among civilized peoples, and 
prodigiously admired by them, — minds which are verj 


able in some one respect and monstrously incapable in a 
others. K we have been accustomed to deplore the spe 
tacle, among the artisan class of a workman occupic 
during his whole life in nothing else but making knif< 
handles or pins' heads, we may find something quite i 
lamentable in the intellectual class, in the exclusive en 
ployment of a human brain in resolving some equation 
or in classifying insects. The moral effect is, unhappil; 
analogous in the two cases. It occasions a miserable ii 
difference about the general course of human affairs, i 
long as there are equations to resolve and pins to mam 
faeture. This is an extreme case of human automatism 
but the frequency, and the growing frequency, of the ev 
gives a real scientific importance to the case, as indicatiu 
the general tendency, and warning us to restrain it. "^hi 
it appears to me that ^he social destinatio n of j oveiiimei 
s to guard against and restrain the Tundam^tal dispe: 
ion of ideas, sentiments, and interests^^-^wtich is tl 
inevitable result of the very principle of human develoj 
ment, and which, if left to itself, would put a stop to socis 
progression in all important respectsN 

Here we have, in my opinion, the basis of the elemental 
and abstract theory of government, regarded in its con 
Basis of the plete scientific extension ; that is, as chara< 
true theory of terized by the universal necessary reactioi 
government. — fij.g^ spontaneous and then regulated,- 
of the whole upon the parts. It is clear that the on! 
way of preventing such a dispersion is by setting u 
this reaction as a new special function, which shall ii 
tervene in the performance of all the various functioi 
of the social economy, to keep up the idea of the whol 
and the feeling of the common interconnection: and th 
more energetically, the more individual activity tend 
to dissolve them. Not itself affecting any determinal 
social progress, it contributes to all that society ca 
achieve, in any direction whatever, and which society coul 
not achieve without its concentrating and protective car< 
The very nature of its action indicates that it cannot h 
merely material, but also, and much more, intellectual an 
moral ; so as to show the double necessity of what has bee 
called the temporal and spiritual government, the rationj 


subordination of which was the best feature of the social 
organization that was happily effected in its day, under 
the influence of the prevalent Catholicism. Moreover, this 
ruling function must become more, instead of less neces- 
sary, as human development proceeds, because its essential 
principle is inseparable from that of the development 
itself. — Thus, it is the habitual predominance of the 
spirit of the whole which constitutes government, in what- 
ever way it is regarded. The next consideration is, how 
such an action arises, independently of all systematic com- 
bination, in the natural course of the social economy. 

If the dispersive tendency arising from the t^, 
J' J. "i^ ±' £ £ J.' X 11 Elementary 

distribution or lunctions naturally propa- subordination. 

gates itself, it is clear that any influence 
capable of neutralizing it must also be constantly expand- 
ing. In fact, an elementary subordination must always be 
growing out of the distribution of human operations, 
which gives birth to government, in the bosom of society 
itself, as we could easily discover by analysing any marked 
subdivision which has just taken place in any employment 
whatever. This subordination is not only material, but 
yet more intellectual and moral; that is, it requires, 
besides practical submission, a corresponding degree of 
real confidence in both the capacity and the probity of the 
special organs to whom a function, hitherto universal, is 
confided. Every one of us relies, even for life itself, on the 
aptitude and the morality of a multitude of almost unknown 
agents, whose folly or wickedness might affect the welfare 
of vast numbers of human beings. Such a condition 
belongs to all modes of social existence. If it is especially 
attributed to industrial societies, it is only because it must 
be most conspicuous where the division of labour goes 
furthest ; and it is as certainly to be found in purely 
military societies ; as the statical analysis of an army, a man- 
of-war, or any other active corporation shows in a moment. 
This elementary subordination discloses its own law; 
which is, that the various operations in which individuals 
are engaged fall naturally under the direction of those 
which are next above them in generality. We may easily 
convince ourselves of this by analysing any special occupa- 
tion at the moment when it assumes a separate character : 


because the task thus separated is necessarily more speci 
than the function from which it proceeds, and to which i 
own fulfilment must be subordinated. This is not tl 
occasion on which to expatiate on this law; but i 
political bearing concerns us here, — indicating as it do 
the germ of a true classification of social functions. ^ 
shall hereafter meet with a full verification of this law ; 
regard to the industrial life of modern societies: tl 
eminent regularity of military associations renders the la 
obvious at once; and when the law is once admitted, 
discloses the spontaneous connection of this elemental 
social subordination with that political subordination, pr 
perly so called, which is the basis of government, ai 
which presents itself as the last degree in the hierarcl 
formed by the subjection of the more special to the mo: 
general classes of phenomena. For, as the various pa 
ticular functions of the social economy are naturally in 
plicated in relations of greater generality, all must j 
length be subject to the direction of the most gener 
function of all, which is characterized, as we have seen, l 
the constant action of the whole upon the parts. On tl 
other hand, the organs of this direction must be mut 
strengthened by the encouragement afforded to intellectui 
and moral inequality under a system of division of en 
ployments. It is clear that while men were obliged to c 
everything for themselves, they must have been confine 
to domestic life, devoting all their activity to supply tl 
wants of the family ; and there could be little expansion < 
individual ability and character. Though marked indiv 
duality must always have made itself felt, in every state < 
society, the division of labour, and the leisure .^i ch 
brings, have been needful to the conspicuous deveAmei 
of that intellectual superiority on which all political a 
cendancy must mainly rest. We must observe, moreove 
that there can be no such division of intellectual as < 
material labour ; so that the intellectual functions must I 
less aft'ected than the industrial by the dispersive tendenci< 
of such a division. We are familiar with the effect < 
civilization in developing moral, and yet more, intellectuj 
inequalities; but we must bear in mind that moral an 
intellectual forces do not admit, like the physical, of bein 


accumulated and compounded : so that, eminently as they 
can concur, and clearly as they are the creators of social 
concurrence, they are much less adapted for direct co- 
operation. A sufficient coalition of the most insignificant 
individuals can easily carry any point of physical conflict, 
or of acquisition of wealth, against the highest superiority 
in an individual or a family; so that, for example, the 
most enormous private fortune cannot sustain any com- 
petition wibh the financial power of a nation, whose 
treasury is filled by a multitude of the smallest contribu- 
tions. But, on the contrary, if the enterprise depends on 
a high intellectual power, as in the case of a great scientific 
or poetical conception, there can be no association of 
ordinary minds, however extensive, which can compete 
with a Descartes or a Shakspere. It is the same in the 
moral case ; as, for instance, if society is in need of any 
great resource of devotedness, the want cannot be supplied 
by accumulating any amount of moderate zeal furnished 
by individuals. The only use of a multitude in such a 
case is that it improves the chance of finding the unique 
organ of the proposed function; and when that singular 
agent is once found, there is no degree of multitude which 
can weigh down its preponderance. It is through this 
privilege that intellectual and moral forces tend to an 
ever-increasing social authority, from the time when a 
due division of employments admits of their proper de- 

Such is, then, the elementary tendency of Tendency of 
all human society to a spontaneous govern- society to go- 
ment. This tendency accords with a corre- vemment. 
sponding system, inherent in us as individuals, of special 
dispositions towards command in some, and towards obedi- 
ence in others. We must not, with regard to the first, 
confound the desire to rule with the fitness to do so ; though 
the desire is one element of the fitness : and, on the other 
hand, there is a much stronger inclination to obedience in 
the generality of men than it is customary in our day to 
suppose. If men were as rebellious as they are at present 
represented, it would be difficult to understand how they 
could ever have been disciplined : and it is certain that we 
are all more or less disposed to respect any superiority, 


especially any intellectual or moral elevation, in our neig 
hours, independently of any view to our own advantag 
and this instinct of suhmission is, in truth, only too oiU 
lavished on deceptive appearances. However excessive tl 
desire of command may be in our revolutionary day, the 
can be no one who, in his secret mind, has not often fe" 
more or less vividly, how sweet it is to obey when he a 
have the rare privilege of consigning the burdensome i 
sponsibility of his general self-conduct to vdse and trus 
worthy guidance : and probably the sense of this is stronge 
in those who are best fitted for command. In the mid 
of political convulsion, when the spirit of revolutiona: 
destruction is abroad, the mass of the people manifest 
scrupulous obedience towards the intellectual and mor 
guides from whom they accept direction, and upon who 
they may even press a temporary dictatorship, in the 
primary and urgent need of a preponderant authorit 
Thus do individual dispositions show themselves to be 
harmony with the course of social relations as a whole, 
teaching us that/political subordination is as inevitab] 
generally speaking, as it is indispensably And this coi 
pletes the elementary delineation of Social Statics. 

My sketch has perhaps been so abstract and condense 
that the conceptions of this chapter may appear obscure 
present ; but light will fall upon them as we proceed. ^ 
may already see, however, the practical advantage whi< 
arises from the scientific evolution of human relations. Tl 
individual life, ruled by personal instincts ; the domesti 
by sympathetic instincts ; and the social, by the speci 
development of intellectual influences, prepare for t] 
states of human existence which are to follow: and th 
which ensues is, first, personal morality, which subjects tl 
preservation of the individual to a wise discipline ; ne5 
domestic morality, which subordinates selfishness to syi 
pathy ; and lastly, social morality, which directs all d 
vidual tendencies by enlightened reason, always having tl 
general economy in view, so as to bring into concurren 
all the faculties of human nature, according to their appr 
priate laws. 




IF we regard the course of human develop- Scientific view 
ment from the highest scientific point of of Human 
view, we shall perceive that it consists in progression, 
educing, more and more, the characteristic faculties of 
humanity, in comparison with those of animality; and 
especially with those which man has in common with the 
whole organic kingdom. It is in this philosophical sense 
that the most eminent civilization must be pronounced to 
be fully accordant with nature, since it is, in fact, only a 
more marked manifestation of the chief properties of our 
species; properties which, latent at first, can come into 
play only in that advanced state of social life for which 
they are exclusively destined. The whole system of bio- 
logical philosophy indicates the natural progression. We 
have seen how, in the brute kingdom, the superiority of 
each race is determined by the degree of preponderance of 
the animal life over the organic. In like manner, we see 
that <dur social evolution is only the final term of a pro- 
gression which has continued from the simplest vegetables 
and most insignificant animals, up through the higher rep- 
tiles, to the birds and the mammifers, and still on to the 
carnivorous animals and monkeys, the organic characteris- 
tics retiring, and the animal prevailing more and more, till 
the intellectual and moral tend towards the ascendancy 
which can never be fully obtained) even in the highest state 
of human perfection that we can conceive of. ^his com- 
parative estimate affords us the scientific view of human 
progression, connected, as we see it is, with the whole 
course of animal advancement, of which it is itself the 
highest degree. The analysis of our social progress proves 
indeed that, while the radical dispositions of our nature are 


u*'i'MHHa.n\y invariable, the highest of them are in a con- 
tin iiouh state of relative development, bv which the v rise to 
}}**. prefK>nderant [K^wers of human existence, though the 
inversion of the primitive economy can never }je absolutely 
c/nnplete. We have seen that this is the essential character 
of tlie s'icial or^nism in a statical view : but it becomes 
much more marked when we study its variations in their 
^ra^lual succession. 

OiiirMeof Man'H Civilization develops, to an enormous de- 
♦wKJal develop- gree, the action of Man upon his environ- 
'"''"^- ment: and thus, it may seem, at first, to 

<;onccntrate our attention upon the cares of material exis- 
ts 'iiw;, the support and improvement of wliich appear to be 
tli<j chief olijcct of most social occupations. A closer 
<?xanii nation will show, however, that this development 
^ivcH the a^l vantage to the highest human faculties, both 
by tlie security which sets free our attention from physical 
wants, and by the direct and steady Excitement which it 
administers to the intellectual functions, and even the 
sexual feelings. In Man's social infancy, the instincts of 
subsiHUince are so preponderant, that the sexual instinct 
itself, notwithstanding its primitive strength, is at first 
controlled by them : the domestic affections are then much 
less jjronounced ; and the so(jial affections are restricted to 
an almost imperceptible fraction of humanity, beyond 
which everything is foreign, and even hostile: and the 
malignant ])assious are certainly, next to the animal appe- 
tites, the mainspring of human existence. It is unques- 
tionable that civilization leads us on* to a further and 
further development of our noblest dispositions and our 
most generous feelings, which are the only possible basis 
of human association, and which receive, by means of that 
association, a more and more special culture. As for the 
intellectual faculties, — we see, by the habitual improvidence 
which characterizes savag6 life, how little influence reason 
has over men in that stage of existence. Those faculties 
are then undt'veloped, or show some activity only in the 
lowest order, wliich relate to the exercise of the senses: 
the faculties of abstraction and combination are almost 
wholly inert, except under some transient stimulus : the 
rude (juriosity which the spectacle of nature involuntarily 


inspires is quite satisfied with the weakest attempts at 
theological explanation; and amusements, chiefly distin- 
guished by violent muscular activity, rising at best to a 
manifestation of merely physical address, are as little 
favourable to the development of intelligence as of social 
qualities. The influence of civilization in perpetually im- 
proving the intellectual faculties is even more unquestion- 
able than its effect on moral relations. The development 
of the individual exhibits to us in little, both as to time 
and degree, the chief phases of social development. In both 
cases, the end is to subordinate the satisfaction of the 
personal instincts to the habitual exercise of the social 
faculties, subjecting, at the same time, all our passions to 
rules imposed by an ever-strengthening intelligence, with 
the view of identifying the individual more and more with 
the species. In the anatomical view, we should say that 
the process is to give an influence by exercise to the organs 
of the cerebral systems, increasiiig in proportion to their 
distance from the vertebral column, and their nearness to 
the frontal region. Such is the ideal type which exhibits 
the course of human development, in the individual, and, 
in a higher degree, in the species. This view enables us to 
discriminate the natural from the artificial part of the pro- 
cess of development ; that part being natural which raises 
the human to a superiority over the animal attributes ; and 
that part being artificial by which any faculty is made to 
preponderate in proportion to its original weakness : and 
here we find the scientific explanation of that eternal 
struggle between our humanity and our animality which 
has been recognized by all who have made Man their study, 
from the earliest days of civilization till now, and embodied 
in many forms before its true character was fixed by the 
positive philosophy. 

This, then, is the direction of the human ^^ 
evolution. The next consideration is the gress" ^^^ 
rate at which it proceeds, apart from any 
differences which may result from climate, race, or other 
modifying causes. Taking into the account only universal 
causes, it is clear that the speed must be in proportion to 
the combined influence of the chief natural conditions 
relating to the human organism first, and next to its 


mediunL The myariableness, — the evident impossibilitj 
of HUHpending these fundamental conditions must ever 
prevent our estimating their respective importance, though 
we may have a general conviction that our spontaneous 
development must be hastened or retarded hj any change 
in these elementary influences, organic or inorganic ; sup- 
jx^sing, for instance, our cerebral system to be slightly 
inferior, in the frontal region ; or our planet to become 
larger or more habitable. Sociological analysis can, by its 
nature, reach only to accessory conditions, which are ren- 
dered susceptible of estimate by their variations. 
,, . Among these secondary but permanent in- 

fluences, which affect the rate of human deve- 
lopment, ennui is the first which presents itself. Man, 
like other animals, cannot be happy without a sufficient 
exercise of all his faculties, intense and persistent in pro- 
I>ortion to the intrinsic activity of each faculty. The 
greater difficulty expeiienced by man in obtaining a de- 
velopment compatible with the special superiority of his 
nature renders him more subject than the other animals 
to that remarkable state of irksome languor which indi- 
cates at once the existence of the faculties and their in- 
sufficient activity, and which would become equally irrecon- 
cilable with a radical debility incapable of any urgent 
tendency, and with an ideal vigour, spontaneously sus- 
ceptible of indefatigable exercise. A disposition at once 
intellectual and moral, which we daily see at work in 
natures endowed with any energy, must have powerfully 
accelerated the human expansion, in the infancy of 
humanity, by the uneasy excitement it occasioned either 
in the eager search for new sources of emotion, or in the 
more intense development of direct human activity. This 
secondary influence is not very marked till the social ^tate 
is sufficiently advanced to make men feel a growing need 
to exercise the highest faculties, which are, as we have 
seen, the least energetic. The strongest faculties, which 
lire the lowest, are so easily exercised that in ordinary 
circumstances they can hardly generate the ennui which 
would produce a favourable cerebral reaction. Savages, 
like children, are not subject to much ennui while their 
l)liysical activity, which alone is of any importance to them. 


is not interfered with. An easy and protracted sleep pre- 
vents them, as if they were mere animals, from feeling 
their intellectual torpor in any irksome way. This brief 
notice of the influence of ennui was necessary, to show 
what its operation really amounts to in accelerating the 
speed of our social evolution. But perhaps the most 
important of all accelerating influences is the ordinary 
duration of human life, which I mention in rj *• f . 
the second place. There is no denying that human life. ^ 
our social progression rests upon death. I 
mean, the successive steps suppose the steady renewal of 
the agents of the general movement, which is almost 
imperceptible in the course of any single life, and becomes 
marked only on the succession of a new generation. Here 
again the social resembles the individual organism, — being 
under the same necessity to throw off its constituent parts 
as they become, by the vital action itself, unfit for further 
use, and must be replaced by new elements. To illustrate 
this, we need not go so far as to suppose an indefinite 
duration of human life, which would presently put a stop 
to all progression whatever. It is enough to imagine it 
lengthened tenfold only, its respective periods preserving 
their present proportions. If the general constitution of 
the brain remained the same as now, there must be a 
retardation, though we know not how great, in our social 
development: for the perpetual conflict which goes on 
between the conservative instinct that belongs to age and 
the innovating instinct which distinguishes youth would 
be much more favourable than now to the former. From 
the extreme imperfection of the higher parts of our nature, 
even those who, in their prime, have contributed most to 
human progress cannot preserve their due social eminence 
very long without becoming more or less hostile to the 
further progress which they cannot assist. But an ephemeral 
life would be quite as mischievous as a too ]>rotracted one, 
by giving too much power to the instinct of innovation. 
The resistance which this instinct now meets with from 
the conservatism of age compels it to accommodate its 
efforts to the whole of what has been already done. With- 
out this check, our feeble nature, which has a strong 
repugnance to irksome and continuous labour, would be 


for erer proposing incomplete views and crude attempts, 
that csould never ripen into matoie projects and feasilJe 
acts : and this would be the inevitable state of things, if 
human life were reduced to a quarter, or even to half its 
present length. Such would be the consequences, in either 
case, if we suppose the constitution of the human brain 
to be much what it is now : and to suppose it essentiaJlj 
changed, would be to carry us over into the region of 

No justification is however afforded bv these considera- 
tions to the optimism of the advocates of final causes : for 
if, in this as in everv other case, the actual order is neces- 
sarily more or less accordant with the course of the pheno- 
mena, it is very far from being true that the arrangement 
of the natural economy is as good for its purposes as we 
can easily conceive. The slowness of our social develop- 
ment is no doubt partly owing to the extreme imperfection 

1/ of our organism ; but it is owing nearly as much to the 
brevity of human life : and there would be no risk to any 
other great arrangement if the duration of our life, while 
still limited by the conditions just specified, were doubled 
or trebled. We have hardly thirty years (and those beset 
with impediments) to devote to other purposes than pre- 
paration for life or for death ; and this is a very insufficient 

V balance between what Man can detise and what he can 
execute. Probably no one has ever nobly devoted himself 
to the direct advancement of the human mind without 
bitterly feeling how time, employed to the utmost, failed 
him for the working out of more than an insignificant part 
of his conceptions. It will not do to say that the rapid 
succession of coadjutors compensates for this restriction of 
individual activity. Important as this compensation is, it 
is very imperfect, both on account of the loss of time in 
preparing each successor, and because the precise con- 
tinuance of the work by different persons, occupying 
different points of view, is impossible, and the more out 
of the question exactly in proportion to the value of the 
new coadjutors. In the simplest material operations, no 
man's work has ever been carried on by others precisely as 
he would have done it himself ; and the more difficult and 
lofty labours, which require intellectual and moral forces 



to complete them, are much more in need of a persistent 
unity in their management. These intellectual and moral 
forces no more admit of partition and addition by suc- 
cessors than by contemporaries ; and, whatever the advo- 
cates of the indefinite distribution of individual efforts 
may say, a certain degree of concentration is necessary to 
the accomplishment of human progress. 

Another cause which affects the rate of . 

progress is the natural increase of popula- population 
tion, which contributes more than any other 
influence to accelerate the speed. This increase has always 
been regarded as the clearest symptom of the gradual 
amelioration of the human condition ; and nothing can be 
more unquestionable when we take the whole race into the 
account ; or at least, all the nations which have any mutual 
interest : but this is not the view with which my argument 
is concerned. I have to consider only the progressive con- 
densation of our species as a last general element con- 
curring in the regulation of our rate of social progress. It 
is clear that by this condensation, and especially in its 
early stages, such a division of employments is favoured 
as could not take place among smaller numbers : and again, 
that the faculties of individuals are stimulated to find sub- 
sistence by more refined methods ; and again, that society 
is obliged to react with a firmer and better concerted 
energy against the expansion of individual divergences. 
In view of these considerations, I speak, not of the increase 
of the numbers of mankind, but of their concentration 
upon a given space, according to the special expression 
which I have made use of, and which is particularly 
applicable to the great centres of population, whence, in 
all ages, human progression has started. By creating new 
wants and new difficulties, this gradual concentration 
develops new means, not only of progress but of order, by 
neutralizing physical inequalities, and affording a growin<^ 
ascendency to those intellectual and moral forces which 
are suppressed among a scanty population. If we go on 
to inquire into the effect of a quicker or slower concentra- 
tion, we shall perceive that the social movement is further 
accelerated by the disturbance given to the old antagonism 
between the conservative and the innovating instincts, — 

II. X 


the last being strongly reinforced. In this sense the 
sociological influence of a more rapid increase of popula- 
tion is in analogy with that which we have just been 
considering in regard to the duration of life ; for it is of 
little consequence whether the more frequent renewal of 
individuals is caused by the short life of some, or the 
speedier multiplication of others; and what was said in 
the former case will suffice for the latter. It must be 
observed, however, that if the condensation and rapidity 
were to pass beyond a certain degree, they would not 
favour, but impede this acceleration. The condensation, 
if carried too far, would render the support of human life 
too difficult ; and the rapidity, if extreme, would so affect 
the stability of social enterprises as to be equivalent to a 
considerable shortening of our life. As yet, however, the 
increase of population has never nearly reached the natural 
limits at which such inconveniences will begin; and we 
have really no experience of them, unless in a few excep- 
tional cases of disturbance caused by migrations, ill- 
managed as to their extent of numbers and of time. In 
an extremely distant future, our posterity will have to con- 
sider the question, and with much anxiety ; because, from 
the smallness of the globe, and the necessary limitation of 
human resources, the tendencv to increase will become 
extremely important, when the human race will be ten 
times as numerous as at present, and as much condensed 
everywhere as it now is in the west of Europe. When- 
ever that time comes, the more complete development of 
human nature, and the more exact knowledge of the laws 
of human evolution, will no doubt supply new means of 
resistance to the dauger ; means of which we can form no 
clear conception, and about which it is not for us to 
decide whether they will, on the whole, afford a sufficient 

These are not all the accelerating influences which 
could be mentioned ; but they are the chief ; and they are 
enough for us, in our abstract view of our subject. I 
have now only to exhibit the main subordination which 
the different aspects of human development must mutually 

Though the elements of our social evolution are con- 


iiected, and always acting on each other, one * 
must be preponderant, in order to give an im- ^^^^^^ » 
pulse to the rest, though they may, m their 
turn, so act upon it as to cause its further expansion. We 
must find out this superior element, leaving the lower degrees 
of subordination to disclose themselves as we proceed : and 
we have not to search far for this element, as we cannot err 
in taking that which can be best conceived of apart from 
the rest, notwithstanding their necessary connection, while 
the consideration of it would enter into the study of the 
others. This double characteristic points out the intellec- 
tual evolution as the preponderant principle. If the intel- 
lectual point of view was the chief in our statical study of 
the organism, much more must it be so in the dynamical 
case. If our reason required at the outset the awakening 
and stimulating influence or the appetites, the passions, 
and the sentiments, not the less has human progression 
gone forward under its direction. It is only through the 
more and more marked influence of the reason over the 
general conduct of Man and of society, that the gradual 
march of our race has attained that regularity and perse- 
vering continuity which distinguish it so radically from the 
desultory and barren expansion of even the highest of the 
animal orders, which share, and with enhanced strength, 
the appetites, the passions, and even the primary senti- 
ments of Man. If the statical analysis of our social or- 
ganism shows it resting at length upon a certain system of 
fundamental opinions, the gradual changes of that system 
must affect the successive modifications of the life of 
humanity : and this is why, since the birth of philosophy, 
the history of society has been regarded as governed by the 
history of the human mind. As it is necessary, in a scien- 
tific sense, to refer our historical analysis to the prepon- 
derant evolution, whatever it may be, we must in this case 
<jhoose, or rather preserve, the general history of the human 
mind as the natural guide to all historical study of humanity. 
One consequence of the same principle, — a consequence as 
rigorous but less understood, — is that we must choose for 
consideration in this intellectual history, the most general 
and abstract conceptions, which require the exercise of our 
highest faculties. Thus it is the study of the fundamental 


gjstein of human opinions with regard to the whole of 
phenomena, — in short, the history of Philosophy, whatever 
may be its character, theological, metaphysical, or positive, 
— ^which must regulate our historical analysis. No other 
department of intellectual history, not even the history of 
the fine arts, including poetry, could, however important in 
itself, be employed for this object ; because the faculties of 
expression, which lie nearer to the affective faculties, have 
always, in their palmiest days, been subordinated, in the 
economy of social progress, to the faculties of direct con- 
ception. The danger (which is inherent in every choice, 
and which is least in the choice that I have made,) of losing 
sight of the interconnection of all the parts of human de- 
velopment, may be partly guarded against by frequently 
comparing them, to see if the variations in any one corre- 
sponds with equivalent variations in the others. I believe 
we shall find that this confirmation is eminently obtainable 
by my method of historical analysis. This will be proved 
at once if we find that the development of the highest part 
of human interests is in accordance with that of the lowest, 
— the intellectual with the material. If there is an accor- 
dance between the two extremes, there must be also between 
all the intermediate terms. 

We have indicated the general direction of the human 
evolution, its rate of progress, and its necessary order. 
We may now proceed at once to investigate the natural 
laws by which the advance of the human mind proceeds. 
The scientific principle of the theory appears to me to con- 
gist in the great philosophical law of the succession of the 
three states : — the primitive theological state, the transient 
metaphysical, and the final positive state, — through which 
the human mind has to pass, in every kind of speculation. 
This seems to be the place in which we should attempt the 
direct estimate of this fundamental law, taking it as the 
basis of my historic analysis, which must itself have for its 
chief object to explain and expand the general notion of 
this law by a more and more extended and exact applica- 
tion of it in the review of the entire past of human 
history. I hope that the frequent statement and appli- 
cation of this law throughout the preceding part of my 
work will enable me to condense my demonstration of 


it here, without impairing its distinctness, or injuring 
its efficacy in such ulterior use as we shall have to make 
of it. 

The reader is by this time abundantly . , 

familiar with the interpretation and destina- Three Periods, 
tion of the law. All thoughtful persons can 
verify for themselves its operation in individual develop- 
ment, from infancy to manhood, as I pointed out at the 
beginning of this work. We can test it, as we have tested 
other laws, by observation, experiment, and comparison. I 
have done so through many years of meditation ; and I do 
not hesitate to say that all these methods of investigation 
will be found to concur in the complete establishment of 
this historical proposition, which I maintain to be as fully 
demonstrated as any other law admitted into any other de- 
partment of natural philosophy. Since the discovery of 
this law of the three periods, all positive philosophers have 
agreed on its special adaptation to the particular science in 
which each was interested, though all have not made the 
avowal with equal openness. The only objections that I 
have encountered have related merely to the universality 
of its application. I hold it to be now implicitly recog- 
nized with regard to all the sciences which are positive : 
that is, the triple evolution is admitted in regard to all 
cases in which it is accomplished. It is only in regard to 
social science that its application is supposed to be impos- 
sible : and I believe the objection to signify nothing more 
than that the evolution is in this case incomplete. Social 
science has, with all its complexity, passed through the 
theological state, and has almost everywhere fully attained 
the metaphysical ; while it has nowhere yet risen to the 
positive, except in this book. I shall leave the assertion of 
the law in regard to sociology to the demonstration which 
my analysis will afford : for those who cannot perceive in 
this volume, as a whole, the nascent realization of this last 
philosophical process could not be convinced by argument. 
Leaving the historical verification of the law therefore to 
the reader, I invite attention to its philosophical explana- 
tion. It is not enough that the succession of the three 
states is a general fact. Such generality would go for 
more in any other science than in sociology, because, as we 


have seen, our biological philosophy enables us to conceive 
of all the main relations of social phenomena d priori, in- 
dependently of their direct investigation, and we need con- 
firmation of our conceptions by direct knowledge of human 
nature and experience. An a priori conception of a law so 
important as this is of the deepest interest in the study of 
social dynamics ; and, to confirm it, we must carefully mark 
the general grounds, derived from an exact knowledge, 
whicli have rendered indispensable on the one hand, and 
inevitable on the other, that succession of social pheno- 
mena which take their course under the operation of this 
law. The loji^ical grounds have already been assigned, at 
the outset of the work, and repeatedly since : and it is with 
the moral and social that we now have to do, and we can 
review them without subjecting ourselves to the reproach 
of severing the parts of a philosophical demonstration which 
are in their nature bound up together. 
,„, ^, , . The necessity of the intellectual evolution 
cirplrioal"^'' I assert lies in the primary tendency of Man 

to transfer the sense of his own nature into 
the radical explanation of all phenomena whatever. Philo- 
sophers tell us of the fundamental difficulty of knowing 
ourselves ; but this is a remark which could not have been 
made till human reason had achieved a considerable 
advance. The mind must have attained to a refined state of 
meditation before it could be astonished at its own acts, — 
reflecting upon itself a speculative activity which must be 
at first incited by the external world. If, on the one hand, 
Man must begin by supposing himself the centre of all 
things, he must, on the other hand, next set himself up as 
a universal type. The only way that he can explain any 
phenomena is by likening them, as much as possible, to his 
own acts, — the only ones whose mode of production he can 
sui)pose himself, by the accompanying sensations, to under- 
stand. We may therefore set up a converse statement, 
and say that Man knows nothing but himself ; and thus, 
his philosophy, in his earliest stage, consists principally in 
transferring this spontaneous unity, more or less fortu- 
nately, into all subjects which may present themselves to 
his nascent attention. It is the highest proof of his philo- 
sophical maturity when he can, at length, apply the study 


of external nature to his own. When I laid this down as 
the basis of biological philosophy, I intimated the extreme 
rarity of such an attainment. At the. outset, under the in- 
verse process, the universe is always subordinated to Man, 
in speculative as well as in active respects. We shall not 
have attained a truly rational position till we can reconcile 
these two great philosophical views, at present antagonistic, 
but admitting of being made mutually complementary, 
and, in my opinion, prepared for being so, from this time 
forward. Such a harmony is even now barely conceivable 
in the brightest insight of philosophical genius, and there 
could have been no choice between the two courses in the 
earliest days of human development. The starting-point 
must have been that which alone was naturally possible. 
This was the spontaneous origin of the theological philo- 
sophy, the elementary spirit of which consists in explaining 
the intimate nature of phenomena, and their mode of pro- 
duction, and in likening them, as much as possible, to the 
acts of human will, through our primary tendency to regard 
all beings as living a life analogous to our own, and often 
superior, from their greater habitual energy. This pro- 
cedure is so eminently exclusive, that men are unable to 
emancipate themselves from it, even in the most advanced 
stages of evolution, except by abandoning altogether these 
inaccessible researches, and restricting themselves to the 
study of the laws of phenomena, apart from their causes. 
Whenever, at this day, the human mind attempts to pass 
these inevitable limits, it involuntary falls again into the 
primary errors, even in regard to the simplest phenomena, 
because it recurs to an aim and point of view essentially 
analogous, in attributing the production of phenomena to 
special volitions, internal, or more or less external. One 
case presents itself as an example, of the simplest scientific 
character, — that of the memorable philosophical error of 
the illustrious Malebranche in regard to the explanation of 
the mathematical laws of the elementary collision of solid 
bodies. If such a mind, in such an age, could explain such 
a theory in no other way than by an express recurrence to 
the continuous activity of a direct and special providence, 
we cannot doubt the tendency of our reason towards a 
radically theological philosophy whenever we attempt to 


penetrate, on any ground whatever, the intimate nature of 

This inevitableness of the theological philosophy is its 
most radical property, and the first cause of its long 
Intellectual ascendancy. We have seen before that it was 
influence of necessary, as the only possible beginning of 
the Theoloffi- our intellectual evolution ; for the facts which 
cal philosophy, ^^ust form the basis of a positive theory 
could not be collected to any purpose without some pre- 
liminary theory which should guide their collection. Our 
understanding cannot act without some doctrine, false or 
true, vague or precise, which may concentrate and stimu- 
late its efforts, and afford ground for enough speculative 
continuity to sustain our mental activity. Our meteoro- 
logical observations, as we call them, show us how useless 
may be vast compilations of facts, and how really unmean- 
ing, while we are destitute of any theory whatever. Those 
who expect that the theory will be suggested by the facts, 
do not understand what is the course necessarily pursued 
by the human mind, which has achieved all real results by 
the only effectual method, — of anticipating scientific obser- 
vations by some conception (hypothetical in the first in- 
stance) of the corresponding phenomena. Such a necessity 
has already been shown to be especially marked in the case 
of social speculations, not only from their complexity, but 
from the peculiarity that a long preparatory development 
of the human mind and of society constitutes the phe- 
uomena of the case, independently of all preparation of 
observers, and all accumulation of observations. It may 
be worth observing, that all the partial verifications of this 
fundamental proposition that we meet with in the different 
sciences confirm each other, on account of our tendency to 
unity of method and homogeneousness of doctrine, which 
would incline us to extend the theological philosophy from 
one class of speculations to another, even if we should not 
so treat each one of them separately. 

The original and indispensable office of the theological 
philosophy is then to lead forth the human mind from the 
vicious circle in which it was confined by the two necessi- 
ties of observing first, in order to form conceptions, and of 
forming theories first, in order to observe. The theological 


philosophy afforded an issue by likening all phenomena 
whatever to human acts ; directly, in the first instance, by 
supposing all bodies to have a life more or less like our 
own, and indirectly afterwards, by means of the more 
durable and suggestive hypothesis which adds to the 
visible system of things an invisible world, peopled by 
superhuman agents, who occasion all phenomena by their 
action on matter, otherwise inert. The second stage is 
especially suitable to the human mind which begins to feel 
its difficulties and its needs ; for every new phenomenon is 
accounted for by the supposition of a fresh vohtion in the 
ideal agent concerned, or, at most, by the easy creation of 
a new agent. However futile these speculations may now 
appear, we must remember that, in all times and every- 
where, they have awakened human thought by offering to 
it the only material which it could at first accept. Besides 
that there was no choice, the infant reason can be interested 
by nothing but sublime solutions, obtained without any 
deep and sustained conflict of thought. We, at this day, 
find ourselves able, after suitable training, to devote our- 
selves to the study of the laws of phenomena, without 
heed to their first and final causes: but still we detect 
ourselves occasionally yielding to the infantine curiosity 
which pretends to a power of knowing the origin and the 
end of all things. But such severity of reason as we are 
capable of has become attainable only since the accumula- 
tion of our knowledge has vielded us a rational hope of 
finally discovering the natural laws that were altogether 
out of reach, in the early states of the human mind ; and 
the only alternative from total inactivity was, in those 
days, in the pursuit of the inaccessible subjects which are 
represented by the theological philosophy. — The moral and 
social grounds of this philosophy were as necessary as the 
intellectual. Its moral influence was to inspire Man with 
confidence enough for action, by animating him with a 
sense of a position of supremacy. There is something 
astonishing in the contrast between the actual powers of 
Man in an infant state and the indefinite control which he 
aspires to exercise over external nature ; just as there is in 
his expectation of understanding matters which are inac- 
cessible to reason. The practical and the speculative 


expectation alike belong to the theological philosophy. 
Supposing all phenomena to be regulated bj superhuman 
will, Man may hope to modify the universe by his desires ; 
not by his personal resources, but by the access -which 
he believes himself to have to the imaginary beings whose 
power is unlimited: whereas, if he was aware from the 
beginning that the universe is subject to invariable laws, 
the certaintv that he could no more influence than under- 
stand them would so discourage him that he would remailT 
for ever in his original apathy, intellectual and moral. 
We find ourselves able to dispense with supernatural aid 
in our difficulties and sufferings, in proportion as we obtain 
a graduarcontrol over nature by a knowledge of her laws : 
but the early races of men were in an opposite condition. 
They could obtain confidence, and therefore courage, only 
from above, and through the illusion of an illimitable 
power residing there, which could, on any occasion, afford 
them irresistible aid. I am not referring now to any hope 
of a future life. We shall see presently that it was not till 
a much later period that that hope exercised any important 
social influence : and even in more recent times, we shall 
find that the effect of the religious spirit on the conduct of 
human life proceeds much more from belief in actual and 
special immediate aid than from the uniform perspective 
of a remote future existence. This seems to me the lead- 
ing aspect of the remarkable state which is produced in 
the human brain by the important intellectual and moral 
phenomenon of prayer ; the admirable properties of which, 
when it has attained its full physiological efficacy, are very 
manifest in the earliest stage of progress. After a long 
decline of the religious spirit, the notion of miracle was 
naturally formed, to characterize the events which had 
become exceptional, and were attributed to divine inter- 
vention : but the very conception shows that the general 
principle of natural laws had become familiar, and even 
preponderant, because the only sense of miracle was a 
transient suspension of natural laws. WTiile the theo- 
logical philosophy was all in all, there were no miracles, 
because everything was equally marvellous, as we see by 
the artless descriptions of ancient poetry, in which the com- 
monest incidents are mixed up with the most monstrous 


prodigies, and undergo analogous explanations. Minerva 
intervenes to pick up the whip of a warrior in military 
games, as well as to protect him against a whole army: 
and in our time, the devotee is as importunate in praying 
for his smallest personal convenience as for the largest 
human interests. In all ages, the priest has been more 
occupied with the solicitations of his flock about immediate 
favours of Providence than with their care for their eternal 
state. However this may be, we see that it is a radical 
property of the theological philosophy to be the sole sup- 
port and stimulus of Man's moral courage, as well as the 
awakener and director of his intellectual activity. — To this 
we must add, as another attraction of Man to this philo- 
sophy, that the affective influence comes in to fortify the 
speculative. Feeble as are the intellectual organs, rela- 
tively considered, the attractive moral perspective of an 
unbounded power of modifying the universe, by the aid of 
supernatural protectors, must have been most important 
in exciting mental action. In our advanced state of scien- 
tific progress, we can conceive of the perpetual pursuit of 
knowledge for the sake of the satisfaction of intellectual 
activity, joined to the tranquil pleasure which arises from 
the discovery of truth: yet it is doubtful whether such 
natural stimulus as this would always suffice without col- 
lateral instigations of glory, of ambition, or of lower and 
stronger passions, except in the case of a very few lofty 
minds ; and with them, only after training in the requisite 
habits. And nothing of this kind can be supposed possible 
in the early days, when the intellect is torpid and feeble, 
and scarcely accessible to the strongest stimulus ; nor yet 
afterwards, when science is so far advanced as to have 
attained some speculative success. In the working out of 
such speculation, the mental activity can be sustained by 
nothing short of the fictions of the theological philosophy 
about the supremacy of man and his unbounded empire 
over external nature ; as we have seen in regard to astro- 
logy and alchemy. In our own time, when there are en- 
lightened men who hold such delusions in regard to social 
speculations alone, we see. how irrationally they expect to 
modify at will the whole course of political phenomena, in 
which they could not take any adequate scientific interest 


without such an expectation. What we see of the influence 
of this view in maintaining the old polities may give us 
some faint idea of its power when it pervaded every part 
of the intellectual system, and illusion beset the reason of 
Man, whichever way he turned. Such then was the moral 
operation of the theological philosophy, — stimulating Man's 
active energy by the offer, in the midst of the troubles of 
his infantine state, of absolute empire over the external 
world, as the prize of his speculative efforts. 
Social influ- "^^^ social evidences under this head will 

ences of the be fully treated in the following chapters, so 
Theolof>ical that we may dismiss them now with a very 
philosophy. short notice, important as they are ; and the 
more easily, because this class of evidences is the most 
indisputable of the three. There are two views which must 
be considered, in relation to the high social office of the 
theological philosophy: first, its function in organizing 
society ; and next, its provision for the permanent existence 
of a speculative class. — As to the first, we must perceive 
that the formation of any society, worthy to be so called, 
supposes a system of common opinions, such as may restrain 
individual eccentricity ; and such an influence, if needful 
now, when men are connected together by such a concur- 
rence of obligations as high civilization introduces, must 
be absolutely indispensable in the infancy of society, when 
families adhere to each other so feebly, by means of rela- 
tions as precarious as they are defective. No concurrence 
of interests, nor even sympathy in sentiment, can give 
durability to the smallest society, if there be not intellec- 
tual unanimity enough to obviate or correct such discord- 
ance as must inevitably arise. It has been shown that, 
indole at as our intellectual faculties are in comparison 
with the others, reason must rule, not domestic but^social, 
and yet more political life : for through it alone can there 
be any organization of that reaction of society on the indi- 
vidual which appoints the function of government, and 
absolutely requires a system of common opinions about 
nature and Man. Such a system, then, is a political neces- 
sity ; and especially in the infancy of society. But, on the 
other hand, we must admit that the human mind, having 
thus furnished a basis for social organization, must depend 


for its further development on society itself, whose expan- 
sion is really inseparable from that of human intelligence. 
Here we see that society is in a vicious circle in a political, 
as well as a logical view, through the opposition of two 
equal necessities ; and here, again, the only possible issue 
is afforded by the theological philosophy. It directs the 
first social organization, as it first forms a system of com- 
mon opinions, and by forming such a system. Because we 
see it now in such a state of decomposition that its advo- 
cates lose sight of the unity of opinions that it once secured, 
and are themselves involved in intellectual discordance, we 
must not forget how, in those days of vigour by which it 
must be judged, it established an intellectual communion 
which constituted its most remarkable political function. 
The police consideration of a future life is wrongly attri- 
buted to this period of human society. It arose long after 
and was of very inferior importance to the intellectual 
agreement which preceded it : and its operation would not 
be so erroneously exaggerated, but that religion has so far 
faded out of men's minds as to leave no other strong 
habitual remembrance than of its grossest impressions. 

Another way in which the theological institution of 
philosophy was politically indispensable to a speculative 
human progress was by instituting, in the class, 
midst of society, a special class regularly devoted to specu- 
lative activity. In this view, the social supremacy of the 
theological philosophy has lasted to our own time. It is 
scarcely possible for us to form any but an indirect idea of 
the difficulty of establishing, in the earliest period of 
society, any permanent division between theory and prac- 
tice, such as is effected by the existence of a class regularly 
occupied with speculation. Even now, amidst all the 
refinement of our mental habits, we find extreme difficulty 
in duly estimating any new operation which has no imme- 
diate practical bearing: and by this we may imperfectly 
understand how impossible it was, in the remotest ages, to 
institute among populations of warriors and slaves a 
corporation that should be disengaged from military and 
industrial employments, and whose activity should be 
mainly of an intellectual kind. Such a class could, in 
those times, have been neither established nor tolerated if 


it bad not been introduced in the natural course of social 
movement, and invested with authority beforehand by the 
influence of the theological philosophy. The political 
function of that philosophy thus was to establish a specu- 
lative body whose social existence not only admitted of no 
preparatory discussion, but was itseK an indispensable 
preparation for the regular organization of all other classes. 
Whatever might have been the confusion of intellectual 
labour, and the inanity of the leading investigations of 
the sacerdotal orders, it is not the less true that the human 
mind owes to them the first effectual separation between 
theory and practice, which could take place in no other 
manner. Mental progress, by which all other progress is 
directed, would certainly have been destroyed at its birth, 
if society had continued to be composed of families engaged 
in the cares of material existence, or, as the only alterna- 
tive, in the excitement of a brutal military activity. Any 
spiritual expansion supposes the existence of a privileged 
class, enjoying the leisure indispensable to intellectual 
cidture, and at the same time urged, by its social position, 
to develop to the utmost the kind of speculative activity 
compatible with the primitive state of humanity ; and this 
description is answered by the sacerdotal institution estab- 
lished by the theological philosophy. Though, in the 
decrepitude of the old philosophy, we see the theological 
class sunk in mental lethargy, we must not forget that but 
for their activity in the days of its prime, human society 
would have remained in a condition much like that of a 
company of superior monkeys. By forming this specula- 
tive class, then, the theological philosophy fulfilled the 
political conditions of a further progression of the human 

Such are the qualities, intellectual, moral, and social, 
which secured the supremacy of the theological philosophy, 
at the outset of human progress. This is the only part of 
my sociological demonstration which is at all open to dis- 
pute ; and this is one reason why I have dwelt so long 
upon it: but it is not the only reason. Another and a 
greater is that this view contains the radical principle of 
the whole demonstration, the remainder of which will not 
detain us long. 


If this starting-point of human develop- »,, p . . 
ment has been placed bejond dispute, the stage.'"''' ''^ 
final, or positive stage, does not admit of it. 
We have seen enough of the establishment of the positive 
philosophy in other departments to be satisfied of its 
destined prevalence in sociology. For the same reasons 
which explain and justify the early supremacy of the 
theological philosophy, we see that it must be a provisional 
state, for its supremacy was owing to its aptitude to meet 
the needs of a primitive state of humanity ; and those 
needs are not the same, nor requiring the same philosophy 
to satisfy them, as those which arise in a more advanced 
stage of the human evolution. After having awakened 
human reason, and superintended its progress, in the 
absence of a more real philosophy, theology began to 
repress the human mind from the first moment of its 
coming into direct antagonism with the positive philo- 
sophy. And in the same way, in its moral relations, it 
imparted at first a consolatory confidence and active energy, 
which have become transmuted, by too long a duration, 
into oppressive terror and a faint apathy which have been 
too common a spectacle since it has been driven to struggle 
to retain its hold, instead of extending its dominion. 
There is no more question of the moral than of the intel- 
lectual superiority and final supremacy of the positive 
philosophy, capable as it is of developing in us an yn shaken 
vigour and a deliberate steadfastness, directly derived from 
our own nature, without any external assistance, or any 
imaginary hindrance. And again, in regard to its social 
bearings, though the ascendancy of the theological philo- 
sophy lasted longer on this ground than on the other two, 
it is evident enough at present that, instead of uniting 
men, which was its proper function at first, it now divides 
them, so that after having created speculative activity, it 
has ended with radically hindering it. The function of 
reuniting, as of stimulating and directing, belongs more 
and more, as religious belief declines, to the conceptions of 
positive philosophy, which alone can estabUsh that intellec- 
tual community all over the world on which the great 
future political organization is to be grounded. The intel- 
lectual destination of the two philosophies has been suffi- 


cientlj established in our review of all the departments of 
natural philosophy. Their moral and social destination 
will be illustrated in succeeding chapters of this work. 
My historical analysis will explain to us the continuous 
decline of the one and the corresponding rise of the other, 
from the earliest period of human progression. It mar 
appear paradoxical to regard the theological philosophy as 
in a steadily declining state intellectually, at the very time 
that it was fulfilling its most exalted political mission ; 
but we shall find satisfactory scientific evidence that 
Catholicism, its noblest social work, must necessarily be 
its last effort, on account of the germs of disorganization 
which must thenceforth grow more and more rapidly. We 
need here therefore only assign the general principle of the 
inevitable tendency of the human mind towards an exclu- 
sive positive philosophy, throughout the whole range of 
the intellectual system. 

Attempted ^^^® general, like the individual human 

union of the mind, is governed by imagination first, and 
two philoso- then, after a sufficient exercise of the facul- 
V"^^^' ties at large, more and more by reason. 

The same grounds on which the process takes place in the 
individual case determine that of the whole species ; and 
with the more certainty and power on account of the 
greater complexity and perpetuity of the social organism. 
Supreme as the theological philosophy once was, it is cer- 
tain that such a method of philosophizing was resorted to 
only because no other was possible. Wherever there has 
been a choice, in regard to any subject whatever, Man has 
always preferred the study of 'the laws of phenomena 
to that of their primary causes, though prior training, 
which there has been no rational education adapted to 
counteract, has often occasioned lapse into his old illusions. 
Theological philosophy has, however, never. been absolutely 
universal. That is, the simplest and commonest" facts in 
all classes of phenomena have always been supposed sub- 
ject to natural laws, and not to the arbitrary will of super- 
natural agents. Adam Smith made the remark that there 
never was, in any age or country, a god of Weight. In 
more complex cases, if only the relations of phenomena are 
seen to be invariable, the most superficial observer recog- 



nizes the presence of law. Even among moral and social 
phenomena, where the entrance of positive philosophy has 
been interdicted, we are all obliged to act daily on the 
supposition of natural laws, in order to conduct the 
common affairs of life, for all forecast would be impossible 
if we supposed every incident to be ascribable to super- 
natural agency, and no other resource therefore possible 
than prayer, for influencing the course of human actions. 
It is even noticeable that the principle of the theological 
philosophy itself lies in the transference to the phenomena 
of external nature of the first beginnings of the laws of 
human action ; and thus the germ of the positive philosophy 
is at least as primitive as that of the theological philosophy 
itself, though it could not expand till a much later time. 
This idea is very important to the perfect rationality of our 
sociological theory ; because, as human life can never pre- 
sent any real creation, but only a gradual evolution, 
the final spread of the positive spirit would be scientifically 
incomprehensible, if we could not trace its rudiments from 
the very beginning. From that scarcely appreciable pre- 
sence at the beginning, the rise of the positive spirit has 
been recognizable, in proportion to the extension and gene- 
ralization of our observations, and the theological philo- 
sophy has been slowly but steadily driven back within the 
narrowing limits of phenomena whose natural laws were 
still unknown. Thus was the function of the old philo- 
sophy clearly a provisional one, — to maintain our mental 
activity by the only exercise open to it, till the positive 
philosophy should usher it i^to the wide field of universal 
knowledge, made accessible to the whole race. This desti- 
nation has only recently exhibited itself in an unquestion-^ 
able way since the disclosure of natural laws in phenomena 
so numerous and so various as to suggest the necessary 
existence of analogous laws in all other departments, how- 
ever remote their actual discovery may be. 

It does not follow, from anything that I have said, tha.t 
the two philosophies were always visibly opposed to each 
other. On the contrary, the physical study must have 
succumbed to the theological spirit if they had seemed 
at the outset to be incompatible. In fact, the study of the 
laws of phenomena appeared, for a long course of time, to 

II. Y 


agree very well with the investigation into their causes. 
It was only when observations became more connected, and 
disclosed important relations, that the radical opposition of 
the two doctrines began to be felt. Before the antagonism 
was avowed, the positive spirit manifested its repugnance 
to the futile absolute explanations of the theological philo- 
sophy ; and the theological spirit lavished its disdain on the 
circumspect march and modest investigations of the new 
school ; while still there was no idea that the study of real 
laws was irreconcilable with that of essential causes. 
When natural laws of considerable scope were at length 
discovered, the incompatibility became clear between the 
preponderance of imagination and that of reason, between 
the absolute spirit and the relative ; and, above all, between 
the ancient hypothesis of the sovereign direction of events 
by any arbitrary will, and the growing certainty that we 
can foresee and modify them by the rational access of 
human wisdom. It is only in our own time that the an- 
tagonism has been extended to all parts of the intellectual 
field : and even up to the last moment, the students of 
special subjects have believed that by confining themselves 
to the investigation of natural laws, and paying no 
attention to the nature of beings and mode of production 
of phenomena, they might find physical researches com- 
patible with the explanations of theology ; while theology 
made its own concessions in the form of a provisional 
notion of a universal providence, combined with special 
laws which it had imposed on itself. The conduct of 
Catholicism, in interdicting the habitual use of miracle 
and prophecy, which prevailed so largely in ancient times, 
seems to me to present, in religious affairs, a transient 
situation analogous to that which is exhibited by what 
is called the institution of constitutional monarchy in 
the political world ; each being in its own way an indis- 
putable symptom of decline. However this may be, the 
insufficiency of the theological philosophy manifests itself 
to popular observation in that form of popular evidence 
which can alone reach the majority of mankind, — in its 
comparison with its opponent in the application of means. 
The positive philosophy enables us to foresee and to modify 
natural events, and thus satisfies, more and more, as it 


advances, the most urgent intellectual needs of humanity, 
while the ancient philosophy remains barren ; so that its 
fanciful explanations are more and more neglected, while 
the new philosophy obtains a perpetually firmer hold on the 
public reason. Those who have remained faithful in their 
attachment to the theological philosophy make no practical 
use of it in their daily life, and ground their predilection 
for it on its characteristic generality: so that when its 
antagonist shall have become systematized as fully as it is 
destined to be, the ancient philosophy will have lost 
the last attribute which has ever entitled it to social 

We have now only to take a cursory sur- _,, m t h 
vey of the intermediate state. I have g^^,^ Periai. 
pointed out more than once before, that 
any intermediate state can be judged of only after a 
precise analysis of the two extremes. The present case is 
a remarkable illustration of this necessity ; for, if it is 
once admitted that the human mind must set out from the 
theological state, and arrive certainly at the positive, we 
may easily understand how it must pass through the 
metaphysical, which has no other destination than to 
afford a transitiotn from the one to the other. The bastard 
aiid mobile character of the metaphysical philosophy fits it 
for this office, as it reconciles, for a time, the radical oppo- 
sition of the other two, adapting itseK to the gradual 
decline of the one and the preparatory rise of the other, so 
as to spare our dislike of abrupt change, and to afford us a 
transition almost imperceptible. The metaphysical philo- 
sophy takes possession of the speculative field after the 
theological has relinquished it, and before the positive 
is ready for it : so that in each particular case, the dispute 
about the supremacy of any of the three philosophies is 
reduced to the mere question of opportimeness, judged by 
a rational examination of the development of the human 
mind. The method of modification consists in substituting 
gradually the entity for a deity when religious conceptions 
become so generalized as to diminish perpetually the num- 
ber of supernatural agents, as well as their active interven- 
tion, and at length arrive, professedly if not really, at 
rigorous unity. When supernatural action loses its original 


speciality, it consigns the immediate direction of the phe- 
nomenon to a mysterious entity, at first emanating from 
itself, but to which daily custom trains the human mind to 
refer more and more exclusively the production of each 
event. This strange process has favoured the withdrawal 
of supernatural causes, and the exclusive consideration of 
phenomena ; that is, the decline of the theological and the 
rise of the positive spirit. Beyond this, the general 
character of this philosophy is that of the theological, 
of which it is only a modification, though the chief. It 
has an inferior intellectual consistency, and a much less 
intense social power ; so that it is much better adapted for 
a critical function than for any real organization : and it is 
those very qualities which disable it for resistance to the 
growth of the positive spirit. On the one hand, the 
increasing subtlety of metaphysical speculations is for 
ever reducing their characteristic entities to mere abstract 
denominations of the corresponding phenomena, so as 
to render their own impotence ridiculous when they 
attempt explanations : a thing which would not have been 
possible, in an equal degree, with purely theological forms. 
On the other hand, its deficiency of organizing power, 
in consequence of its radical inconsistency, must prevent iis 
maintaining any such political struggle as theology main- 
tained against the spread of positive social philosophy. 
However, it obtains a respite by its own equivocal and 
mobile nature, which enables it to escape from rational 
discussion even more than the theological philosophy itself^ 
while the positive spirit is as yet too imperfectly generalized 
to be able to attack the only substantial ground of their 
common authority, — the universality which they can 
boast, but which it has not. However this may be, wl&v^ 
must admit the aptitude of metaphysics to sustain, pro- 
visionally, our speculative activity on all subjects till it can 
receive more substantial aliment ; at the same time carry- 
ing us over from the theological regime further and further 
in the direction of the positive. The same aptitude 
appears in its political action. Without overlooking the 
serious intellectual and moral dangers which distinguish 
the metaphysical philosophy , its transitional quality accounts 
to us for the universal ascendancy which it has provision- 



ally obtained among the most advanced societies, which 
cannot but have an instinctive sense of some indispensable 
office to be fulfilled by such a philosophy in the evolution 
of humanity. The irresistible necessity of this temporary 
phase is thus, on all grounds, as unquestionable as it could 
be prior to the direct analysis to which it will be subjected 
in the course of our historical review. 

During -the whole of our survey of the sciences, I have 
endeavoured to keep in view the great fact Co-existence 
that all the three states, theological, meta- of the three 
physical, and positive, may and do exist Periods, 
at the same time in the same mind in regard to different 
sciences. I must once more recall this consideration, and 
insist upon it ; because in the forgetful ness of it lies the 
only real objection that can be brought against the grand 
law of the three states. It must be steadily kept in view 
that the same mind may be in the positive state with 
regard to the most simple and general sciences; in the 
metaphysical with regard to the more complex and special ; 
and in the theological with regard to social science, which 
is so complex and special as to have hitherto taken no 
scientific form at all. Any apparent contradiction must 
certainly ai'ise, even if it could be shown to exist, from the 
imperfection of our hierarchical arrangement, and not 
from the law of evolution itself. This once fully under- 
stood, the law itself becomes our guide in further investi- 
gation, as every proved theory does, by showing us by 
anticipation, what phenomena to look for, and how to use 
those which arise: and it supplies the place of direct 
exploration, when we have not the necessary means of 
investigation. We shall find that by this law alone can 
the history of the human mind be rendered intelligible. 
Having convinced ourselves of its efficacy in regard to all 
other sciences, and in interpreting all that has yet come to 
pass in human history, we must adhere to it steadily in 
analysing the present, and in forming such anticipation of 
the future as sociology, being a real science, enables us to 
rely upon. 

To complete my long and difficult demonstration, I have 
only now to show that material development, as a whole, 
must follow a course, not only analogous, but perfectly 


correspondent with that of intellectual development, which, 
as we have seen, governs every other. 

Orresponding All political investigation of a rational 
material deve- kind proves the primitive tendency of man- 
lopment. kind, in a general way, to a military life ; 

and to its final issue in an industrial life. No enlightened 
mind disputes the continuous decline of the military spirit, 
and the gradual ascendancy of the industrial We see now, 
under various forms, and more and more indisputably, 
even in the very heart of armies, the repugnance of modern 
society to a military life. We see that compulsory recruit- 
ing becomes more and more necessary, and that there is 
less and less voluntary persistence in that mode of life. 
Notwithstanding the immense exceptional development of 
military activity which was occasioned by anomalous cir- 
cumstances at the beginning of the present century, our. 
industrial and pacific instincts have returned id their 
regular course of expansion, so as to render us secure of 
the radical tranquillity of the civilized world, though the 
peace of Europe must often appear to be endangered 
through the provisional deficiency of any systematic or- 
ganization of international relations ; a cause which, though 
insufficient to produce war, keeps us in a state of frequent 
uneasiness. We need not then go over again the proof of 
the first and last terms of the evolution ; which will be 
abundantly illustrated by the historical analysis that I 
shall offer. We have only to refer the facts of human 
experience to the essential laws of human nature, and the 
necessary conditions of social development: — a scientific 
procedure which has never yet been attempted. 
^ . . .,. As long as primitive Man was averse from 

ta^lifT ^1^ regular toil, the military life alone fur- 

nished a field for his sustained activitv. 
Apart from cannibalism, it offered the simplest means of 
subsistence. However deplorable the necessity, its uni- 
versal prevalence and continuous development, even after 
subsistence might have been obtaiaed by other means, 
j)roves that the military regime must have had some indis- 
pensable, though provisional office to fulfil in the pro- 
gression of the race. It was indeed the only one under 
which human industry could make a beginning; in the 


same way that the scientific spirit could not have arisen 
without the protection of the religious. The industrial 
spirit supposed the exitsttenoe of a considerable social de- 
velopment, such as could not have taken place till iso- 
lated families had been connected by the pursuits of war. 
The social, and yet more the political properties of military 
activity are, in their early stages, perfectly clear and de- 
cisive, and, in short, fully appropriate to the high civilizing 
function which they had to fulfil. It was thus that habits 
of regularity and discipline were instituted, and the families 
of men were brought into association for warlike expedi- 
tions or for their common defence. The objects of associa- 
tion could not possibly be more obvious or urgent, nor the 
elementary conditions of concurrence more irresistible. In 
no other school could a primitive society learn order ; as 
we may see at this day in the case of those types of ancient 
humanity, — the exceptional individuals who cannot now be 
made amenable to industrial discipline. This ascendancy 
of the military spirit was indispensable, not only to the 
original consolidation of political society, but yet more to 
its continuous extension, which could not otherwise have 
taken place but with excessive slowness ; and such exten- 
sion was, to a certain degree, indispensable to the final 
development of human industry. Thus, then, we find 
humanity involved in the same kind of vicious circle with 
regard to its temporal as we saw it to be with its spiritual 
progress ; and in both cases an issue was afforded by the 
fortunate expansion of a j^reliminary tendency. In fact, 
the necessary basis of the military regime has everywhere 
been the individual slavery of the producing class, by 
which warriors were allowed the full and p . . 
free development of their activity. We shall sSverv^^ 
see hereafter that the great social operation 
which was to be accomplished, in due time, by the con- 
tinuous progression of a military system, powerfully insti- 
tuted and wisely carried out, must have failed in its 
earliest stages. We shall also see how this ancient slavery 
was the necessary preparation for the final prevalence of 
the industrial life, by imposing on the majority of the race, 
irresistibly and exclusively, that toil to wliich Man is con- 
stitutionally averse, thotigh an ultimate condition of 


laborious perseverance was in store for all. To view the 
case without prejudice, we must transport ourselves to 
those primitive times, and not regard the slavery of that 
age with the just horror with which we view that of 
modem times, — the colonial slavery of our day, which is 
truly a social monstrosity, existing as it does in the heart 
of an industrial period, subjecting the labourer to the 
capitalist in a manner *equaUy degrading to both. The 
ancient slavery was of the producer to the warrior ; and 
it tended to develope their respective energies, so as 
to occasion their final concurrence in the same social 

The Military Necessary as this military regime was, it 
regime provi- was not the less merely provisional. While 
sional. industrial activity has the fine quality of 

bearing the most energetic extension among all individuals 
and nations without making the rise of the one irreconcil- 
able with that of the other, it is evident that the exaltation 
of the military life among any considerable portion of the 
race must occasion the restriction of all the rest; this 
being, in fact, the proper function of the regime in regard 
to the whole field of civilization. Thus, while the indus- 
trial period comprehends the whole term of human pro- 
gress under natural laws, — that is, the whole future that 
we can conceive of, — the military period could last no 
longer than the formation of those preparatory conditions 
which il was its function to create. This end was attained 
when the chief part of the civilized world was at length united 
under the same rule ; that is, in regard to Europe, when 
Rome had completed its conquests. From that time forward, 
military activity had neither object nor aliment ; and from 
that time forward, therefore, it declined, so as no longer to 
disguise that gradual rise of the industrial spirit, which 
had been preparing during the interval. But, notwith- 
standing this connection, the industrial state was so radi- 
cally different from the military as to require an inter- 
mediate term ; and in the same way that, in the spiritual 
evolution, an intermediate term was required between the 
theological and the positive spirit. In both cases, the 
middle phase was fluctuating and equivocal. We shall see 
hereafter that, in the temporal case, it consisted, first, in a 


substitution of a defensive for an offensive military organi- 
zation, and afterwards in an involuntary general subordi- 
nation, more and more marked, of the military spirit to 
the instinct of production. This transitory phase being 
the one in vrhich we live, its proper nature, vague as it is, 
can be estimated by indirect intuition. 

Such is the temporal evolution, briefly surveyed in its 
three periods. No philosophical mind can help being 
struck by the analogy between this indisputable pro- 
gression and our primary law of succession of the three 
states of the human mind. But our sociological demon- 
stration requires that we should establish the connection 
l)etween them by exhibiting the natural affinity which has 
always existed, first between the theological and the mili- 
tary spirit, and afterwards between the scientific and in- 
dustrial; and, consequently, between the two transient 
functions of the metaphysicians and the legists. This 
elucidation will impart the last degree of precision and 
consistency to my demonstration, and will thus establish it 
as the rational basis of the entire historical analysis which 
will follow. 

The occasional rivalry between the theo- Affinity he- 
logical power and the military, which history tween the 
presents, has sometimes disguised their radi- theoloorical and 
<'al affinity, even in the eyes of philosophers. mihtaryrei7t7/i€. 
But, if we consider, there can be no real rivalry but among 
the different elements of the same political system^ in con- 
sequence of that spontaneous emulation which, in all cases 
of human concurrence, must become more earnest and 
extensive as the end is more important and indirect^ and 
therefore the means more distinct and independent, with- 
out the participation, voluntary or instinctive, being thereby 
prevented. When two powers, equally energetic, rise, in- 
<jrease, and decline together, notwithstanding the difference 
of their natures, we may be assured that they belong to 
the same regime, whatever may be their habitual conflicts. 
Conflict indicates radical incompatibility only when it takes 
place between two elements employed in analogous func- 
tions, and when the gradual growth of the one coincides 
with the continuous decline of the other. As to the 
present case, it is evident that, in any political system. 



there must be an incessant riyalij between the specnlatiTe 
and the actiye powers, which, through the impeifection of 
our nature, must often be inclined to ignore their neces- 
sary co-ordination, and to disdain the general limits of 
their reciprocal attributes. Notwithstanding the social 
affinity between science and industry, we must look for 
similar conflict between them hereafter, in proportion to 
the political ascendancy which they will obtain t<^ther. 
We see signs of it already in the intellectual and moral 
antipathy of Science to the natural inferiority of these 
labours of Industry which yet are the means of wealth, 
and in the instinctive repugnance of Industry to the ab- 
straction which characterizes Science, and to the just pride 
by which it is animated. 

Having despatched these objections, we may now con- 
template the strong bond which unites the theological and 
military powers, and which has in all ages been felt and 
honoured by all enlightened men who have borne a part in 
either, notwithstanding the passions of political rivalry. It 
is plain that no military system could arise and endure 
without the countenance of the theological spirit, which 
must secure for it the complete and permanent subordina- 
tion essential to its existence. Each period imposes equal 
exigencies of this sort in its special manner. At the out- 
set, when the narrowness and nearness of the aim required 
a less absolute submission of mind, social ties were so weak 
that nothing could have been done but for the religious 
authority with which military chiefs were naturally in- 
vested. In more advanced times the end became so vast 
and remote, and the participation so indirect, that even 
long habits of discipline would not have secured the neces- 
sary co-operation without the aid of theological convictions 
occasioning blind and involuntary confidence in military 
superiors. It was in very ancient times that the military 
spirit had its great social function to fulfil ; and it was in 
those ancient times that the two powers were usually found 
concentrated in the same chiefs. We must observe also 
that it was not every spiritual authority whatever that 
would have sufficiently suited the foundation and consoli- 
dation of military government, which, from its nature, re- 
quired the concurrence of the theological philosophy, and 



no other: for instance, though natural philosophy has 
rendered eminent service in modern times to the art of 
war, the scientific spirit, which encourages habits of rational 
discussion, is radically incompatible with the military 
spirit ; and we know that the subjection of their art to the 
principles of science has always been bitterly deplored by 
the most distinguished soldiers, on the introduction of 
every change, as a token of the decline of the military 
system. On this ground, then, the affinity of temporal 
military powers for spiritual theological powers is suffi- 
ciently accounted for. At the first glance we might sup- 
pose the converse relation to be less indispensable, since 
purely theocratic societies have existed, while an exclusively 
military one has never been known. But a closer examina- 
tion will always show the necessity of the military system 
to consolidate, and yet more to extend, the theological 
authority, developed in this way by a continual political 
application, as the sacerdotal instinct has always been well 
aware. We shall see again that the theological spirit is as 
hostile to the expansion of industry as the military. Thus 
the two elements of the primitive political system have not 
only a radical affinity, but common antipathies and sympa- 
thies, as well as general interests ; and it must be needless 
to enlarge further in this place on the sociological principle 
of the concurrence of these powers, which my historical 
analysis will present as constantly engaged in consolidating 
and correcting each other. 

The latest case of political dualism is even Affinitv Ik;- 
more unquestionable than the earliest, and tween the 
we are favourably circumstanced for observ- Positive and 
ing it, — the two elements not having yet at- Industrial 
tained their definite ascendency, though their ^P^^«'- 
social development is sufficiently marked. When the time 
arrives for their political rivalry, it may be more difficult 
than now to exhibit that resemblance in origin and desti- 
nation, and that conformity of principles and interests, 
which could not be seriously disputed as long as their 
common struggle against the old political system acts as a 
restraint upon their divergencies. The most remarkable 
feature that we have to contemplate in their case is the aid 
which each renders to the political triumph of the other, by 


seconding its own efforts against its chief antagonist. I 
have already noticed, in another connection, the secret in- 
compatibility between the scientific spirit and the military. 
There is the same hostility between the industrial spirit, 
when sufficiently developed, and the theological. The most 
zealous advocates of the old regime are very far removed 
from the old rehgious point of view ; but we can transport 
ourselves to it for a moment, and see how the voluntary 
modification of phenomena by the rules of human wisdom 
must thence appear as impious as the rational prevision of 
them, as both suppose invariable laws, finally irreconcilable 
with all arbitrary will. According to the rigorous though 
barbarous logic of the least civilized nations, all human 
intervention to improve the economy of nature is an in- 
jurious attack upon pi'ovidential government. There is no 
doubt, in fact, that a strong preponderance of the religious 
spirit benumbs the industrial, by the exaggerated feelings 
of a stupid optimism, as has been abundantly clear on 
many decisive occasions. That this disastrous effect has 
not been more fatal is owing to priestly sagacity, which 
has so managed this dangerous power as to educe its 
civilizing influence, while neutralizing its injurious action by 
constant and vigilant effort, in a way which I shall pre- 
sently exhibit. We cannot then overlook the political 
influence by which the gradual expansion of human in- 
dustry must aid the progressive ascendency of the scientific 
spirit, in its antagonism to the religious ; to say nothing of 
the daily stimulus which industry and science impart to 
each other, when once strong enough for mutual action. 
Thus far their office has chiefly been to substitute them- 
selves for the ancient political powers which are yielding 
up their social influence ; and our attention is necessarily 
drawn chiefly to the aid they have afforded to each other 
in this operation. But it is easy to perceive what force and 
what efficacy must reside in their connection, when it shall 
have assumed the organic character, in which it is at present 
deficient, and shall proceed to the final reorganization of 
modem society. 

Now that we have examined the two ex- 
.^n%^^ ^^ ^ treme states, the intermediate dualism re- 

quires little notice. The interconnection of 


the convergent powers, spiritual and temporal, which con- 
stitutes the transitory regime^ is a necessary consequence of 
all that we have been observing. Indeed, we need but look 
at the labours of metaphysicians and legists to see what 
their affinity is, amidst their rivalries ; an affinity which 
stakes the philosophical ascendency of the one class on the 
political preponderance of the other. We may, then, regard 
as now complete the necessary explanation required by our 
fundamental law of human evolution, in order to its direct 
application to the study of this great phenomenon. That 
study will be guided by the consideration of the three 
dualisms which I have established as the only basis of 
sound historical philosophy. It is worth noticing the con- 
formity of this law of succession, at once intellectual and * 
material, social and political, with the historical order 
which popular reason has instinctively established, by dis- 
tinguishing the ancient and the modem world, separated 
and reunited by the Middle Ages. The sociological law 
which I have propounded may be found to have for its de- 
stination to take up a vague empirical notion, hitherto 
barren, a^d render it rational and prolific. I hail this 
spontaneous coincidence, as giving a sanction to my specu- 
lative labours; and I claim this confirmation, in virtue 
of that great aphorism of positive philosophy which I have 
quoted so often, which enjoins upon all sound scientific 
theories to start from a point sufficiently accordant with 
the spontaneous indications of popular reason, of which 
true science is simply a special prolongation. 

The series of views of social dynamics sketched out in 
this chapter has established the fundamental law of human 
development, and therefore the bases of historical philo- 
sophy. We had before ascertained the spirit and method 
of that philosophy ; and we may now therefore proceed to 
apply this great sociological conception to the analysis of 
the history of mankind. 









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( 26 ) 



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WORCESTER. By E. F. Strange. "* 

YORK. By A. Clutton- BROCK, M.A.' a^d Edition. > 


ST. ALBANS. By Rev. W. D. Swbbting. 

CHICHESTER. By H. C. Corlettb, 

Ironside Bax. 

GLASGOW. By P. Macgrbgok Chal 

MBRS, I.A., F.S.A.(Scot.X 
LLANDAFF. By Herbert Prior. 

MANCHESTER. By Rev. T. Perkins, 

Uniform with, above Stria, Now ready, is, 6d, net each. 

ST. MARTIN'S CHURCH, CANTERBURY. By die Rev. Canon Routlbdgb, 
M.A., F.S.A. 

BEVERLEY MINSTER. By Charles Hiatt. 

Perkins, M.A. 


By Rev. T. Perkins, M.A. 

WESTMINSTER ABBEY. By Charles Hiatt. \Prepartng. 


Profusely Illustrated, Crown 8»o, clotk^ 2S, 6d. net each, 

CHARTRES : The Cathedral and Other Churches. By H. J. L. J. Mass^ M.A. [Ready. 
ROUEN : The Cathedral and Other Churches. By the Rev. T. Perkins, M.A. [Ready. 
AMIENS. By the Rev. T. Perkins, M.A* [Preparing 

PARIS (NOTRE-DAME). By Charles Hiatt. {Pre^of^itti